How to avoid holiday booking scams

Posted October 18th, 2022 by SimpliSafe

After a report from the Association of British Travel Agents revealed that fraudsters nabbed over a whopping £ 7 million from holiday-goers back in 2018, it’s vital that individuals take their security seriously when surfing the web in search of a dream deal. Over half of these cases were related to purchasing airline tickets, and the second most common type of fraud was related to booking accommodation. Also, Lloyds Bank has warned that fraud related to flight bookings has since risen by 13%, with scams related to hotel bookings increasing by a scary 18%. 

Alongside being a devastating financial loss, these unfortunate scenarios could also lead to emotional distress - which definitely isn’t what you want when attempting to plan a relaxing getaway. Don’t risk spoiling your time away, and cast your eyes over the following information to help avoid holiday booking scams. 

Keep an eye out for fake adverts

Many scams begin with a holidaymaker being lured in by a fake advertisement, which are sometimes on social media or search engines. Although some of these may look trustworthy, especially if they appear to link to a legitimate website, this unfortunately may not be the case. 

How to spot a fake advert

To avoid an unsafe purchase, or falling into the trap of a financial scam, start by finding out who posted the ad in the first place. For example, has it come from a limited company? Is there a business address you can research? What does the website look like, for example, does it look unfinished? Not only this, but you should also be on the lookout for any spelling errors, poor-quality images or dodgy formatting, and make sure to check the URL too. If, when you hover over the advert, there is a long string of random letters or numbers, it could be an indication that it’s a holiday booking scam. 

If you do believe the advert to be fake, make sure that you report it immediately to avoid others being tempted. 

Never trust an offer that appears out of the blue

As well as fake advertisements appearing on social media pages and search engines, scammers can also send them straight to your inbox - whether that’s in the form of an email or a text. If you do receive a message like this, be cautious as it could be someone pretending to be a legitimate holiday booking site. 

Make a protected payment 

A supposed ‘company’ asking you to complete a bank or wire transfer is always a big no-no, and if this does happen to you, a scammer may be attempting to target you. In doing this, it will be much harder for you to get your money back if you do become a victim. It’s always safest to pay via a credit card, as if you pay through a legitimate banking site, you’ll have access to more rights when it comes to claiming your money back. 

Make sure that you type in the site manually, ensuring that the payment page displays a padlock symbol on the left of the URL - which indicates a secure communication link between yourself and the website - and that it starts with ‘https’. Never click a link that’s provided in an email you think might be a scam. You should also always check the cancellation terms before booking your holiday, and keep track of any payment confirmations and receipts, should you need to refer back to them in the future. 

Check that holiday packages are ABTA or ATOL protected

It’s always best to go for packages that are either ABTA (Associate of British Travel Agents) - relating to rail, cruise or self-drive packages - or ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s licence) - relating to holidays that include flights - protected, which means that you will be legally and financially covered should anything go wrong. 

You can check that ATOL packages are trustworthy by locating the 4-5 digit reference number, and inserting either this or the name of the travel company into the ATOL database. The same procedure goes for ABTA packages, which can be searched in the ABTA database - find that reference number and get searching to avoid a holiday scam. 

Check online reviews and recommendations

Does the accommodation you plan on visiting really exist? Put your suspicions to rest by searching for online reviews and recommendations that indicate it’s real. A handy tip for whenever you’re visiting someplace new. Look on Tripadvisor or Trustpilot to find genuine customer reviews.

What should you do if you have been scammed?

The first step: don’t panic. Although this is easier said than done, maintaining a clear head that doesn’t become clouded with worry is key for getting out of a sticky situation. If you have already begun responding to a scam message, cut off all further communication immediately. Next, you’ll need to get in contact with your bank and inform them of what’s happened, ensuring that you’ve cancelled any recurring bank payments. Next, report the scam as soon as possible through the Action Fraud Website, or alternatively, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040

Protect your home when you’re away

To ensure that your holiday is as stress-free as possible, you can rely on the help of a smart home security system to keep your home and valuables safe when you’re away. With our professional monitoring package, a team will be on hand to act in the event of an emergency, contacting the authorities in instances where a break-in can be visually verified on an Indoor Camera or Outdoor Camera. Why not get in touch with our team today to see how we can help?