Imagine you’ve booked a holiday or long weekend and arrived at the accommodation, only to find that it’s already occupied, or doesn’t actually exist. Or that you’ve paid for airline tickets, but they haven’t arrived in your inbox or through your letterbox … and the seller has become uncontactable.
Thousands of people in the UK become victims of holiday fraud every year, duped by fake websites, advertisements, emails, social media posts, texts or phone calls. They lose their holiday and their hard-earned money.
Holiday fraud can apply equally to exotic, sun-drenched holidays or UK caravan breaks, ski chalets or pilgrimages, city breaks or flights and train journeys.
How to avoid holiday fraud
- Thoroughly research accommodation, flights, cruises or package holidays advertised on private advertisements, to check that they are authentic.
- Check that accommodation really exists by finding on Google Maps and looking for third-party reviews and recommendations. If you can, call the owner/agent directly. If the number is not provided, email and request it.
- Check reviews on TripAdvisor or similar sites.
- Remember that paying by credit card means more chance of getting your money back if something goes wrong.
- Never transfer money in payment for accommodation or travel. If you do and it’s a fraud, your bank will not be obliged to refund your money.
- Confirm that travel agents and tour operators are members of trade associations such as ABTA or ATOL. You can do this on these bodies’ websites.
- If paying online, type in the website address you know to be correct (instead of following a link), ensure the payment page is secure (begins with ‘https’ and has a locked padlock in the browser window frame).
- Be wary of unusually cheap holidays or high deposits.
- Check terms and conditions prior to making any payment.
- Keep confirmations and payment receipts, and check statements for irregular entries.