In 2016, the number of fraud cases relating to holidays rose by 20% to 5,826. However, ABTA, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online believe this is just the tip of the iceberg as many victims are not reporting crime.
The average victim lost approximately £1,200, with nearly 5% saying they had to receive medical treatment as a result of stress, or were at a risk of bankruptcy.
If you have ever been a target of fraud, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The scams can be very sophisticated and can catch even the most eagle-eyed person out. To report fraud, victims should contact Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Types of fraud
In 2016, the most common types of fraud were:
- Accommodation – watch out for fake websites and fake adverts on social media. Do your research and make sure the hotel you are booking exists (TripAdvisor is a good place to start) and that you are booking through a legitimate website or agent.
- Airline tickets – a customer pays for a flight but receives a fake ticket or even no ticket at all. In 2016, flights to Africa and the Indian sub-continent where particularly targeted.
- Sports and religious trips – A popular target due to the limited number of tickets or a specific time of the year, subsequently driving up prices.
- Timeshares and holiday clubs - These attract the highest sums of fraud.
Top tips to avoid becoming a travel fraud victim
The City of London Police, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud – and on how victims should go about reporting it. This advice includes the top tips below:
- Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
- Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review - do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. 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 a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.
- Pay safe: Never pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money is very difficult to trace and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card or a debit card.
- Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices as well as terms and conditions. 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.
This section is taken from the ABTA website.
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