The growth of holidays and flights available on the internet has provided a wealth of opportunities for the travelling public but it has also provided opportunities for fraudsters. At the start of each New Year fraudsters steal millions of pounds targeting holidaymakers who book their summer holidays online.
HOLIDAY BOOKING FRAUD
The criminals scam unsuspecting members of the public by posing as online travel agents and setting up fake travel booking websites. They can make large sums of money by taking payments for holiday, hotel and flight reservations that do not exist. This is common for bookings related to high profile events as well as holidays.
As a result, individual consumers are losing up to tens of thousands of pounds on phoney bookings. They often do not discover they have been ripped off until it is too late and are unable to afford a replacement holiday. This has an impact on the health of the victims, as well as on their purses, due to added stress and worry.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has seen an increase in customer inquiries relating to fraud during January, the most popular month for consumers to search for cheap holiday bookings. In response, the associatio has released a helpful guide to the warning signs of fraud online.
- Prices that are considerably lower than competitors
Although prices may vary slightly amongst different agents, flight and holiday prices are largely set and it is unlikely that one is drastically cheaper and genuine.
- Low resolution and blurry logos for trade associations and credit card companies
If you are unsure, check with the protection organisation or trade body that the company is still licenced to trade.
- The only payment option is a bank transfer
This indicates that no bank is prepared to provide credit card facilities, but paying by credit card will protect your money.
- Non-receipt of tickets
Always check the paperwork and be wary of companies that don't give any.
- Check customer reviews and the website address
If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences and warnings about the company online. An illegitimate website can be spotted by a slight change in the website domain.
Above all, always use your instincts. The sad truth is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So the next time you want to book an exciting getaway online, take on board ABTA's warning signs to escape the scammers.