2 sun loungers on the beach

Don’t Let Holiday Excitement Blind You To The Scammers

It’s that wonderful time of year when people are excited about their summer holiday. For many, the sense of anticipation is heightened as it’s their first chance to get away since the pandemic.

As the world opens up again, Brits are naturally eager to lie on a beach somewhere hot with their loved ones and put the daily grind to the back of their minds for a couple of weeks.

But as the excitement grows, so do the number of scammers looking to take advantage of our eagerness to travel and exploit it for their own criminal gain.

Thousands Of Families Hit by Holiday Scams Every Year

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, received 4,244 reports of holiday and travel-related fraud for the financial year 2021/22 – that’s up more than 120% on the previous financial year.

Scammers conned victims out of a total of £7,388,353, an average loss of £1,868 per victim.

People booking travel and accommodation online are proving easy prey to the thieves, and the public is being urged to be extremely careful before pushing the ‘Book My Holiday’ button.

Some criminals use legitimate platforms to advertise non-existent accommodation, a type of fraud that is almost impossible for holiday bookers to spot.

Cloned websites for travel companies, airlines, hotels, and even comparison websites have all been used to pull unsuspecting customers in, steal their cash and disappear before the would-be holidaymaker has realised something has gone wrong.

The fraudster might sever all contact with the customer or provide them with fake booking details.

In some shocking cases, families with children have turned up at the airport only to discover they’ve been conned when they’re unable to check-in for their flight.

Top tips to shut out holiday fraudsters:

  • Get online and read as much as you can about your holiday and the company you’re looking to book it through. If a firm has defrauded people in the past, there’s a very good chance an online search will throw up warnings and negative reviews.
  • Always pay by credit card if you can. This gives you the best chance of getting your money back should anything go wrong with your booking. And never pay for a holiday directly into a private individual’s bank account – being asked to do that is a classic red flag.
  • Keep a close eye on email and website addresses. Many con artists make their communications and websites look completely genuine but are given away by a minor alteration to an email address – using a 1 instead of an l, for example.
  • Always check if the holiday company is a member of ABTA, the trade body for British travel agents. Usually, the ABTA logo will be sitting high and proud on the company’s website home page. If you can’t find it, go onto the homepage of ABTA’s website, where you can search for the company. For flights as part of a package holiday, you’re looking for ATOL protection, which again should be prominent on the airline’s website. Visit the Civil Aviation Authority’s website here to check if a company is an ATOL holder.
  • Always comb through receipts and terms and conditions as soon as you receive them, so you’re alerted to any issue at the earliest possible stage.
  • And, as always, trust your gut. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Chas Jordan, founder of Fair Contract Associates, says: “Criminals will exploit any situation, and we know that – particularly this year – people’s guards are sometimes down as they excitedly look to get away from it all for the first time in a while.

“Doing your research is so important. As soon as you dig into receipts, website pages, email addresses, and their communications with you, something will always give them away.

“You don’t want to miss out on your holiday because of a scammer, so follow the advice, double-check everything, protect yourself and your family so you can enjoy your well-deserved break in the sun.”

If you think you’ve been a victim of holiday fraud, go to https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or call  0300 123 2040.

Fair Contract Associates

With 53 years in the industry, we have been working hard to stamp out scams and bad practices when it comes to business supply contracts.

We offer a fully independent low-fee contract checking service – so you know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re paying before you sign anything.

Need help with a contract? Schedule a call today.