Holidaymakers warned to beware of bogus offers amid cost of living pressures
People booking holidays are warned to watch out for scammers, as cost of living pressures could push them to take more risks with their money.
Holiday scammers can trick people into paying by bank transfer using fake but convincing holiday advertisements as well as via bogus websites and phone calls.
The rising cost of living can generally make people more vulnerable to scams when looking for cheaper deals.
Vacation booking website Airbnb and online safety experts Get Safe Online are urging people to be vigilant.
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “As the cost of living rises, we want to help protect everyone’s hard-earned money and urge people to remain vigilant when it comes to booking vacation.
“Trust your instincts and remember: if an offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”
A quarter (25%) of people said they wouldn’t be able to afford a holiday if they couldn’t get a good deal, rising to 30% of those aged 18-34, according to a survey of 2,000 people across the UK. by Opinium in December.
One in six (16%) said they would be willing to book on impulse as soon as they were offered a price, if it potentially meant paying less.
A similar proportion (15%) of people would risk paying directly by bank transfer if they thought it would save them money.
One in 10 people (10%) would buy a holiday through a supplier they don’t know if it meant paying less.
Amanda Cupples, Managing Director for the UK and Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: “This year many of us may be eager to save a few pennies when booking vacations, which makes it a perfect time for scammers to take advantage of those looking to find a bargain.”
Here are some tips from Get Safe Online when booking a vacation:
1. Never click on links you don’t expect. Remember that fake links may direct you to a fake website designed to imitate companies you know well.
2. Beware of exceptionally cheap offers or high deposits. If an offer or offer seems too good to be true, it could be a scammer and it’s best to end all communication immediately.
3. Paying by credit card can give you additional protections if something goes wrong. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, a person can file a complaint with the credit grantor if the merchant lets them down.
People may also want to check if the company concerned is a member of the professional association Abta (Association of British Travel Agents).
Holidaymakers booking flights may wish to check coverage under the Atol Financial Protection Scheme (Air Tour Operator’s License).
Michael Budge, Head of Atol at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Even with the steep rise in the cost of living, there is a real appetite to travel overseas this year. The deals may seem enticing, but before booking, we urge everyone to do their research to stay travel savvy and minimize the risk of being scammed.
“Consumers tell us they think it’s important that their holidays are protected by Atol and we want people to have peace of mind knowing they won’t be left behind should the worst happen between booking and travel.
“Always check that it is financially protected by Atol, watch out for hidden extras such as baggage fees and seat assignments, consider paying by credit card if you can, and take out travel insurance when you book because these are all top tips for anyone looking to book a holiday.”
Airbnb also recommends that when using its website, people check reviews from other guests and stay on its platform to book, pay, and communicate.
If someone thinks they have been scammed, they should report it to their bank and the police.