You might be looking to book your summer holiday soon, especially if you’ve been saving up for some time. This couldn’t be easier now that you can browse flights, accommodation and holiday packages online, all from the comfort of your home.
But there are some pitfalls to watch out for. To make sure you get your summer break without any fuss, we’re going to take you through how to avoid booking a holiday through a fraudster’s site.
What to look for
No matter whether you’re visiting a site for the first time or are a regular visitor, you should remember the following tips.
Do your research
A thorough online search will help you get an idea of other people’s experience with the company. Sites won’t be able to please everyone so it’s not uncommon to find a few bad reviews, but any more than this should set alarm bells ringing.
Look out for a logo
Check to see whether the company is a member of a trade body like the Association of British Travel Agents. All members have to operate under a code of conduct, meaning that you should be able to have confidence in one of its members. You can verify an ABTA Member on their website.
You should also look to see whether the company has an Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (ATOL). If so, you should be protected if the company goes bust.
Check for cloning
Fraudsters can clone legitimate websites, so be sure to check the website address that appears in the top window is correct. A cloned website will usually have the last part of the web address changed from co.uk to org – so watch out for this.
Copycat websites can be used to dupe people into paying for services that you can get elsewhere for either free or cheaper. You see a lot of these when applying for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – for more information on this, check out our blog on how to avoid copycat websites.
Make sure the site is secure before you enter your personal payment details online. A secure site should have a padlock in the address bar and the address beginning with ‘https’.
You should be able to speak to someone about your booking, so look out for a phone number. If there’s not one available or just an answerphone, stay away.
Pay by credit card
You should pay with your credit card to receive protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This is a UK law that covers any purchases you make using your credit card between the value of £100 and £30,000.
Under this law, your credit provider and the retailer are responsible if anything goes wrong with a purchase. That means if the company goes bust or your holiday doesn’t exist, you should be able to get your money back.
Think you’ve fallen victim to a holiday scam? You can report it to Action Fraud using their online reporting tool.