The Metropolitan Police and the National Fraud Authority are reminding people who are booking accommodation in London this summer to make sure their booking is genuine by following some simple tips.
Accommodation fraud is when you pay money to make a hotel reservation or book another form of accommodation, but the reservation or property does not exist when you get there.
We suggest you use the following simple tips when booking your accommodation:
• The safest way to protect yourself from booking bogus accommodation is to book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company.
• If using a travel company ensure they are a member of a trade body such as ABTA, the Travel Association or the Air Travel Organisers Licensing, (ATOL)
• If you decide to book independently you should exercise caution. Establish if you are dealing directly with the property owner or a letting agent.
Do your research
• Research the property or hotel that you are booking - verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps. Do the images match those on the advert? Check whether there are any reviews for the accommodation from previous visitors.
• If dealing with the property owner ask them about the property and the area in detail. Can you confirm that what they tell you is accurate from your own research?
• Research any agent that you are dealing with via an online search engine. Are there any reviews of the website or agent? Ask what checks the agent makes on the properties that they are advertising and its owner?
• When paying for accommodation never use a Money Transfer Agent such as Western Union or Moneygram as these are not intended for commercial payments.
• If possible pay by credit card as this may protect your payment.
• Always check the terms and conditions to confirm exactly what you are being sold. Does the website use the Padlock symbol to indicate the site is secure?
• Double check your booking before travel, particularly if there is a long gap between making the booking and arrival.
• Be aware that fraudulent adverts do exist. If you have any doubts do not book it.
If you have been a victim of accommodation fraud you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or by using our online reporting tool.