A Simple Guide To Holiday Booking Fraud
We all save long and hard to be able to afford to pay for our holidays and it is one of the most expensive purchases we make each year. If you are paying for a holiday for your family, it certainly will not be cheap! How would you feel if you had booked a holiday, paid for it only to find out that the money has gone out of your bank account but the holiday you thought you had booked turned out to be fictitious? It really isn’t worth thinking about but sadly it is the reality of a large number of people every year who fall victim to Holiday Booking Fraud.
Holiday Booking Fraud is on the increase and affects people from all walks of life. Holiday Booking Fraud is a double edge sword because not only do the victims not receive the holiday to which they believe they had paid for but they lose their money too!
Sadly, more and more people today are falling foul of this type of Fraud but what is it and how can you avoid it?
What Is Holiday Booking Fraud
You hear so many horror stories about people booking their holiday, flights or accommodation only to find out that they have been subject to Holiday Booking Fraud.
So, what is it?
Basically, Holiday Booking Fraud is when you book a holiday, flight or accommodation but the holiday, flight or accommodation does not exist. The fraudster will take the money from your bank account but you will then be left with no holiday, no flight and no accommodation.
How Do Fraudsters Operate And Target Their Victims
Fraudster will target their victims in many ways and through a number of different channels and mediums. The most common ways they target their victims is through fake websites, bogus telephone calls, fictitious and misleading advertising and unsolicited emails scams. No matter which way they entice their victims, the outcome is always the same and that is that the victims of the fraudsters always lose their money as well as not having anything to show for it!
How To Avoid Falling Victim To Holiday Booking Fraud
The fraudsters that operate such scam are generally very savvy and will often look very professional in their marketing. The websites, advertising, emails and phone calls will all look and sound very convincing as this is why it is very easy to be fooled by them. However, if you keep your guard up at all times and conduct a little research before you book your travel arrangements, it can pay dividends.
Websites And Online Fraud
Online fraud is very common and it can be very easy to be caught out simply because the websites look very professional and identical to the many major travel companies. This is because many of the fraudsters will clone legitimate websites so that their fake websites look identical. This then leaves the victim believing they are booking their holiday or travel arrangements with a major reputable company. However, a few simple checks can answer your questions if you have any doubts as to whether the website or company is real or fake.
Step 1: Check that the website address is correct. Although the website may look legitimate, many of the fake website address are different from the official travel companies website, to which the fraudsters are trying to copy and make you believe is real. Although the fraudsters can clone the look and layout of a website, they cannot use the official website domain address and as a result generally change the last part of it. For example: If the official website address of a travel company ends in .co.uk or .com, the fraudsters would have to use an alternative such as .info or .org.uk etc..
Step 2: If the website is not a clone of an existing major travel company and it is a company you have never heard of before, there are a couple of quick checks you can do to find out whether the company is legitimate or not. Firstly, you could do a quick Google search to see if there are any reviews about the company and secondly, you can visit the ABTA website and run a quick search to see if the company is registered with ABTA and is therefore an ABTA member. If it isn’t, you don’t want to book a holiday with them anyway!
Step 3: Another good way to ensure that a website is secure when you are making a payment is to see if it displays the following prefix ‘shttp’ or ‘https’ in the web browser. If there is the letter ‘S’ before or after the ‘http’ in a website address, it means that the website and payments are secure. It is good practice to get into the habit of checking this every time you make a payment online whether it is for a travel related product or not!
Use Credit Card
If you book your travel arrangement online or over the phone, ensure that where possible you pay with your Credit Card. You have much more protection with your Credit Card than with any other card but if you do not have a Credit Card and want to pay with a Debit Card, try to use one that offers you protection. If you have made a payment and believe you have been the target of Holiday Booking Fraud, you should contact your Credit Card company as soon as possible.
There has been many stories of people booking accommodation only to find when they arrive at the destination, the accommodation does not exist or that the owner of the accommodation they have booked, has no knowledge of the booking. Accommodation fraud generally takes place when people book there accommodation directly with the owner, or who they think is the owner! There are many websites where the owners of accommodation such as apartments, houses or villas advertise their properties for rent. The fraudsters will place false pages on these websites and advertise fictitious properties or will claim to be the owners of existing properties. The victims will then book direct through these pages and the money will be credited into the fraudster’s bank accounts. When the victims arrive at their chosen destination, they find that the property does not exist or that it is not available and the real owner has no knowledge of their booking!
If you have any doubts when you are booking accommodation privately with the owner, avoid paying money into their accounts prior to your arrival. You could always choose to make your arrangements via a reputable agent to ensure you peace of mind.
Visa fraud has increased over the years and once again, this is down to fraudsters cloning websites online and taking payments via these clone websites. If you require a visa to travel and you are searching online for the website to purchase your visa, ensure you are on the correct website before applying for your visa and making a payment. If you are unsure which is the correct website, you can contact the Foreign Embassy for advice and they will be able to provide you with the correct website address. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also provide information and advice regarding Visa applications. Don’t forget to check that a website is secure by looking for the ‘S’ before or after the ‘http’ as described above.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have Been Targeted Or Have Been A Victim Of Holiday Booking Fraud
If you suspect you have been targeted, are suspicious about a company or have actually fallen victim of Holiday Booking Fraud, you should report it straight away. This will help stamp out the fraudsters and stop other people becoming victims.
You can report Holiday Booking Fraud by either visiting: www.actionfraud.police.uk or calling 0300 123 2040