Top tips to avoid becoming a victim of holiday fraud
Published 4 June 2019
Don’t get caught out by holiday scams! Take a look at our easy guide to making sure your holiday booking is the genuine article.
The summer holidays are on the horizon, and it’s time for a well-deserved break. You’ve spent hours searching and finally found your dream getaway for less than you expected.
Stop for a second! Is it too good to be true? Before you go any further, take a moment to check that you’re not about to be scammed.
Recent figures from Action Fraud showed that in 2018, over 5000 holidaymakers lost £7 million between them to holiday and travel related scams. On average, the victims lost £1380 each.
Fraudsters will tempt you with a trip of a lifetime at a rock-bottom price, but if you take the bait you could end up out of pocket. Follow our advice on how to spot a scam and keep your money safe this summer.
Pay by credit or debit card
If anyone asks you to pay for your holiday by bank transfer, run!
Fraudsters sting holidaymakers by asking you to pay for your stay through a bank transfer, then disappearing once they have your cash.
It’s hard to track a direct bank transfer, which makes it really difficult for you to claim your money back.
If you’re sent a payment link leading you away from the main site, don’t click on it. You will lose any payment protection you had by not paying on an official system.
Paying by debit or credit card means you’re more likely to get your money back if something goes wrong. If a holiday provider doesn’t accept credit or debit cards, it might not be worth the risk.
Research your accommodation
Don’t let fraudsters lure you in with pretty pictures. Make sure you do your research before you book your home away from home.
Read the reviews on third party sites like TripAdvisor. If there are no recent reviews or no reviews at all, this should set alarm bells ringing.
Use Google Maps to check that the address matches with the area provided on the website. The last thing you want is for your Sat Nav to say, ‘you have reached your destination’, as you pull up outside a construction site!
If you’re still not 100% sure, pick up the phone. Any legitimate agent or property owner will have a number you can call and be happy to answer any questions.
Look for the stamp of approval
There are some official logos you should look out for to check that your booking is genuine, and your money will be safe if anything goes wrong.
Make sure that your holiday is either ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) protected. Then if worst comes to worst and the company goes bust, you should get back every penny.
Fraudsters like to use these symbols without permission to convince you that their website is ‘real’.
ATOL’s top tip is to make sure that there is a unique licence number attached to the ATOL logo. No number = not real!
You can also search the company name on the ABTA or ATOL websites to check that they’re approved.
Don’t click that link
Had a call, text or email offering you a fantastic holiday deal? It might look and sound legitimate, but if you’ve never heard of the company before, it’s likely to be a scam.
The link could take you to a fake website where fraudsters steal your information, or download a virus to your device.
You can check that the deal on offer is legit without clicking on a single link. Search for the company online, read reviews and check their website to make sure it’s not dodgy.
Enjoy your trip!
Whether you’re heading to Spain or Scotland, don’t let the risk of fraud put you off going away this summer. There are plenty of legitimate holiday companies who aren’t trying to con you!
Do plenty of research before you book, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!
If you do get scammed…
Report it to Action Fraud and your bank straight away. If you think someone has access to your thinkmoney account or online banking login, let us know so we can keep your account secure.
After that, if you forked out for a scam holiday and you paid on your thinkmoney debit card, raise a chargeback with us. We’ll do our best to get your money back.