How to Spot a Holiday Rip Off – Our Top Tips!
14th July 2017
As we hit the busiest time of the year for people going on planned summer holidays or booking spontaneous trips, experts are warning tourists to be extra wary of fraudulent travel websites and other holiday scams.
This is because figures released by Action Fraud revealed that there were nearly 6,000 reported holiday scams last year alone and with those being affected losing on average £1,500 – that’s a daunting fact. The most common scams included fake plane tickets and holiday accommodation. Im sure we have all heard of one of these holiday disaster stories.
Remember – any travel or service purchase involves some level of uncertainty as you usually pay the full amount before you receive the commodity, whether that be a hotel room, airline ticket or an activity. However, below I have listed ways to spot a holiday rip off, especially online and how you can protect yourselves from falling foul of a bogus deal.
Is the company offering unbelievably cheap prices?
A main way fraudsters make their money is by promoting extremely cheap deals which many people are attracted to and buy then and there due to the fear of ‘missing out’. However, remember that sometimes things are too good to be true. For example, like a £200 return flight to Australia from the UK.
An easy way to ensure a deal is genuine is by going on a compare website like sky scanner and getting a ball-park figure of how much a flight is because whilst many airlines claim that their prices are the cheapest, fares are usually in a narrow band.
If a website is offering a deal which is drastically cheaper then be wary. Double check to make sure the company is AOL approved and on a trade board such as ABTA as these companies give extra insurance and protection.
You can do this by checking on holiday agents page and also through the AOL search on their website. Also, search online for reviews about the travel agent – no doubt if somebody has had a bad experience they will share this.
Is the marketing material and general information of poor quality?
A lot of scammers today are duplicating official company websites by copying and pasting images and paragraphs. When on a website check that everything seems of high quality and that the information makes sense.
If you become skeptical copy and paste certain phrases on a search engine and see what comes up – sometimes the official website does! If the website is of poor quality, check that the telephone number matches the location the business is based.
For example, if the area code is foreign but the business is supposedly based in London then alarm bells should be ringing and I recommend you either phone the number or leave the website straightaway.
Does the company request a lot of personal information?
Remember fraudsters are not just after your money – many also want to steal your identity. If a company requests a scanned copy of your passport or all information of your bank card be wary. Ask why they need such information – no legit business will ask for this detailed information unless in unusual circumstances. Never just give this information willingly.
Do they want you to pay via bank transfer?
If a company is claiming they only accept payment via bank transfer then be very cautious as there is no insurance attached to this. Your bank would not be able to get this money back for you if your purchase turns into a scam. Some independent, low key accommodation business may ask for this but it is very rare and a lot of risk is attached to it. Try and always book through a legit booking platform, such as booking.com and try using a credit card if you have one as this gives greater protection.
Are they hurrying your transaction?
A lot of fraudulent websites and offerings are relatively easy to spot once you know what you are looking for. So to make it harder for you, many of these websites will place time restrictions on your transaction.
There will either be a timer at the top or bottom of the page counting down your minutes or they have will have banners or something similar popping up on your screen claiming ‘book in the next 10 minutes or miss out.’ If this happens try calling the service provider, do not be pressurised into purchasing something without checking the legitimacy of a company or website.
Remember legit companies want to make your experience a relaxing and enjoyable one right from the beginning.
If you ask yourself these questions and follow the recommended actions I hope you will be able to avoid the scammers out there. Good luck and enjoy your well-deserved holiday.