How to avoid being the victim of holiday fraud
5 Min Read
I don’t know why I was surprised recently to read that TUI had posted a tweet warning customers of a phishing scam targeting their customers.
I suppose it is only to be expected that as we look forward to life getting back to “normal”, fraudsters are looking at this as an opportunity to illicitly make money. Not having booked holidays for some time, people may be more relaxed when searching online for their next holiday destination – the holiday to make up for the last two years of quarantine and restrictions.
As people look to book holidays and with availability for certain dates or type of holiday limited, many may be attracted by deals that look too good to be true. And the unfortunate reality is that they probably are!
Here are some simple tips to avoid being caught out and losing hard earned money you had set aside for that relaxing break you thought you were going to have.
- Book your holiday / accommodation / flight with a reputable provider. Check whether they are a member of ABTA (ABTA | Travel Advice & Holiday Information | UK Travel Industry) or have ATOL protection (How to check for ATOL protection – ATOL). It is not unknown for some unscrupulous parties to claim they have protection when in fact they have not. It is therefore worth checking on the ABTA or ATOL website for the company details.
- Don’t reply to unsolicited emails or other approaches via social media. Don’t click on any links or attachments as they may launch malware. Search yourself for the company.
- Check that the website you are using is valid and not trying to impersonate another well known brand. Minor changes to a domain name can be a sign that all is not as it should be. If you have any doubts, close the web page and search for the company name rather than using any link you may have been sent.
- Be wary if you are put under pressure to book immediately, transfer funds via bank transfer, which may often be in the form of a “refundable deposit” or provide your bank details including passwords and ID documents.
- Make sure you are issued with a receipt, invoice and booking conditions. Fraudsters may often fail to provide any documentation once funds have been paid.
- If you originally made contact with a property owner through an established website and they then ask you to either contact them or make payment directly you should be wary as to why they want to do this.
It is important that you carry out your research when booking any holiday and this will include checking that the company exists. These enquiries could include checking the company has a postal and perhaps registered office address and that there are valid customer reviews. If there are only one or two reviews then you may need to ask why if the company is allegedly well established.
It is also worth searching for and reading negative reviews to get a feel for the issues that have been raised by previous guests.
Holiday fraud is not limited to holidays abroad, and it is not unknown for fake motorhomes, caravans and properties in the UK to be advertised for hire. Often the issue only becomes apparent once you arrive at your location and discover that the accommodation is already let or does not exist for the purposes of letting.
Passports and other documents
As many people have not travelled for some time, you may now need to renew your passport and other travel documents.
Many companies offer this service for an additional fee but it is usually best to apply directly yourself using the official gov.uk web link:Apply online for a UK passport – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
The same applies for GHIC/ EHIC Applying for healthcare cover abroad (GHIC and EHIC) – NHS (www.nhs.uk). There is no fee payable to apply for a GHIC or EHIC. The process is relatively quick having recently completed it myself.
More information on avoiding holiday fraud
Which also has some helpful tips How to spot a holiday scam – Which?
Take Five is also a national campaign to stop fraud Take Five – To Stop Fraud | To Stop Fraud (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk) and has some helpful hints and tips.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, you can contact Action Fraud Holiday fraud | Action Fraud and report the matter to them. Their website has plenty of useful information if you have been the victim of fraud.
National Trading Standards also have a crime team to which you can report a scam or speak with someone Contact Us – National Trading Standards (tradingstandardsecrime.org.uk)
Always remember that if something just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and you should be able to enjoy your holiday wherever it may be.