In May 2022, Action Fraud launched a national awareness campaign to urge the public to think twice before handing over money and personal information when booking holidays.
As travel restrictions became more relaxed, Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday fraud when booking flights and accommodation online.
In the financial year of 2021/22, Action Fraud received 4,244 reports of holiday and travel related fraud – a substantial increase of over 120% when compared to the previous year.
Victims reported losing a total of £7,388,353 – an average loss of £1,868 per victim.
Whilst many accommodation providers who make use of online booking platforms are legitimate, some criminals will use these platforms to defraud victims by advertising counterfeit accommodation.
Over 7% of victims reported falling victim to suspects impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison sites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.
In some cases, victims have searched for flight tickets online and have found a website they believed to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, victims reported responding to an approach or advertisement on social media or using what they believed to be legitimate flight comparison websites to search for flights.
The fraudster may completely end contact after receiving payment or provide the victim with fake booking information.
Sadly, some victims have only become aware that they have been the victim of fraud when they arrive at the airport and are unable to check-in.
Top tips to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud
Stay safe online – check the website address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org.uk
Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company’s website at https://www.abta.com/abta-member-search. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their If you’re booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website at https://www.caa.co.uk/atol-protection/consumers/checking-for-atol-protection/.
Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
Use your instincts: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Get free expert advice: for further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.
For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Flight delays and cancellations have been in the news recently for the past couple of years and have recently increased due to the return of people travelling post-covid and the airports and airlines seemingly being ill-prepared.
There are rules and laws in place to protect consumers and Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert has put together a comprehensive guide as to what you are entitled to if you experience delays or cancellations.
Please visit his website www.moneysavingexpert.com or use the link below to read his recent article following the highly publicised issues faced by consumers in recent weeks: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2022/05/easyjet-british-airways-cancellations-compensation/.