Hidden vacation scams that could prove costly ahead of a summer getaway

Holidaymakers heading abroad after missing a trip during the pandemic are urged to be aware of hidden scams now that countries have reopened their borders. Some of the most common inconveniences facing travelers this summer have been highlighted by a currency expert FairFX.

Chief executive Ian Strafford-Taylor said: “As the travel industry rebounds, fraudsters could well take advantage of this pent-up demand and any opportunities to get their hands on holidaymakers’ money while we pick up the pace. trips.

“There are key scams to be aware of, from fake Airbnb listings and cheap plane tickets, to counterfeit money and vaccine passports. We urge travelers to be aware of their surroundings and to think twice before handing over any money if you think there is a chance of it being a scam.

“Taking steps to protect your money will always pay off, from monitoring currencies to get the best rates and getting more for your money, to using a specialist currency card to keep your money safe. important to plan ahead to avoid being caught off guard and save money when traveling abroad.

FairFX’s top tips for staying safe during the holidays include:

  • Before flying, always check your destination’s travel restrictions and entry requirements. Use reputable and official websites such as gov.uk or the country’s embassy websites to find out if there are any requirements in place and only access official forms through these sites.
  • When booking your vacation, remember that if something seems too good to be true, there’s a chance it is. Book through legitimate websites or companies that are members of a trade association such as ABTA or ATOL.
  • To avoid cost-cutting scams, plan your trip and budget in advance, and factor in any unforeseen costs as well as expensive items, such as WiFi.
  • To keep your money safe and avoid the risks associated with carrying cash on your person, consider a specialized currency card that you can load with currency in advance to lock in your preferred exchange rates. If you are happy with the current rate offered, buy your currency at that time to secure the rate on your trip.
  • To get around, consult a reliable source such as the airport information desk, a tourist office or your hotel concierge, to call a taxi.

Passenger locator forms

These are no longer mandatory for returning to the UK, but may still be in place when entering other countries. Research the documents required for entry into a destination and be aware of any scams tricking vacationers into purchasing passenger locator forms.

Consumer Watchdog Which? Previously, unscrupulous companies charged travelers up to £75 for an app that should be free. For accurate and up-to-date information on travel requirements and links to official forms, visit gov.uk and search for a destination on overseas travel advice page.

counterfeit currency

Common counterfeit money scams can include things like money changers providing counterfeit or outdated banknotes, or a taxi driver, restaurant or retailer claiming a bill was paid with money. counterfeit money, having exchanged real banknotes for counterfeit ones or returned counterfeit money.

Counterfeit money is a common scam faced by UK holidaymakers

The best way to protect and make the most of holiday money is to plan ahead for the best deals on exchange rates ahead of the holiday. According to recent studies, leaving travel money to the last minute can be expensive, with airport money changers tending to offer rates around 17% higher than market rates on average.

“Free WIFI

Connecting to unsecured networks could make travelers vulnerable to scammers trying to steal sensitive information. Connect only to reliable Wi-Fi networks, but you desperately need an internet connection, consider buying a drink or a meal from a nearby cafe or restaurant that offers Wi-Fi to its customers .

If you travel a lot and prefer not to pay for data roaming, it might be worth considering getting a travel router that you can use to access WiFi from a trusted local network.

Fake Accommodation Ads

If an apartment or villa seems too good to be true, it probably is. Almost a third of holiday booking fraud in 2020/2021 took place on social media, according to Action Fraud, with 62% of victims targeted on Facebook.

Trading Standards Scotland has warned of a woman who lost £250 after booking a caravan at Craig Tara Holiday Park in Ayrshire via false advertising. Scam artists will even list full-time occupied apartments or houses on Airbnb as rentable, then cheat vacationers with their money, before vanishing without a trace.

Whenever possible, always book accommodation on trusted websites like Airbnb, Expedia and others and avoid suggested advertisements on social media. If you are unsure, use Google’s reverse image search feature to verify if the photos are legitimate or if they come from another source.

Too good to be true

According to Action Fraud, more than half of all travel scams in 2020 were related to airfares. Around 7% of victims were tricked into entering their details on a clone comparison or booking websites after searching for flights online.

If an airline deal seems too good to be true - it probably is.
If an airline deal seems too good to be true – it probably is.

The victim is then usually contacted by someone claiming to be from the airline or flight comparison website, to guide them through the booking and arrange payment. Some didn’t realize they had been scammed until they showed up at the airport and couldn’t check in because their tickets were fake.

  • If an agent contacts you directly, be sure to check the airline’s number on their website and say you’ll hang up and call them yourself if you’re not sure.
  • To completely avoid being contacted by third-party agents, consider browsing in a private browsing window to protect your identity and ensure you find the best deals.

Taxi scams

Holidaymakers have reported drivers claiming their meter was broken before offering an inflated price for the ride. They then charge a higher fare, before taking a convoluted route, to raise the fare even further.

Transportation options vary widely by destination, but there are universal rules to help you stay safe when exploring new places.

  • Never hail a taxi from the street. Instead, consult a reliable source like the airport information desk, a tourist information center or your hotel concierge, to call you a taxi, or hire a licensed taxi through an official outpost .
  • Know the general cost of the trip – ask the hotel concierge or consult an online fare calculator – and confirm that the meter is working before getting into the vehicle.

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  • Have the address and opening hours of your destination written in English and in the language spoken in your destination. If the driver tries to take you somewhere else, firmly repeat the desired location or end the ride.
  • Use Google Maps or City Mapper, if available, to ensure your driver stays on course. To avoid taxis altogether, use a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft. You can even enable the Follow My Ride (Uber) or Share My Ride (Lyft) tool so your friends can track your whereabouts.

Covid Vaccination Passport Emails

Most countries still require proof of vaccination status to enter, which fraudsters were quick to exploit. When vaccine passports were first introduced for travel, several email scams circulated urging people to apply for a digital vaccine passport.

However, the NHS website it was linked to was fake. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has warned that these emails are a phishing scheme to obtain people’s personal information and facilitate identity theft.

If you think you have received a phishing email, report it to the National Cyber ​​Security Center at [email protected]

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