Beware of travel fraudsters

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
empty deckchair

Check that you travel company is genuine otherwise you may not get to the beach deckchair reserved for you © Dan Sperrin

Based on the first few days of reports from travel companies, holiday bookings for his coming summer look to be strong .

As people book though, they should be aware that this is also the time that fraudsters try to part money from our wallets.

ABTA says that there has been an increase in fake websites, online scams and non-compliant travel companies that have no financial protection in place.

With a third of summer holidays typically booked during January and February, ABTA is concerned that people looking for a bargain may be duped by fraudsters – travel fraud in 2015 was up 425% year on year and costs holidaymakers £11.5 million according to the City of London Police report which came out last year. We still await the latest report which is due out next month to see how the big the rise – and a rise is expected – was last year.

One way of avoiding problems is to book with a company which is ATOL bonded and the rise in bookings via legitimate travel agents may be due to concern that there are fraudsters around. All package holidays sold in the UK should include protection, where holidaymakers are not only entitled to a refund or repatriation, should their travel company go out of business, but also other specific legal rights, should there be a problem with the holiday.

Some companies may falsely use logos of official bodies such as ATOL, or of organisations such as ABTA and IATA. If the company you are using claims to be a member of a trade association, you should be able to easily verify membership on the trade association’s website, for example on https://abta.com/find-a-member or, if a member of AITO, https://www.aito.com/. Similarly you can check that an ATOL exists by going to http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?appid=2 and entering the number of the ATOL number the company claims to have.

The common types of attempted fraud include scam websites. You can identify these by them not having a locked padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register, or the web address should begin with ‘https://’.

Be sure that you are using the official or genuine website of the company and not a website where the details have been altered slightly. Check that the address is the correct one by doing another search and confirming that address.

Any genuine company will provide a number of different ways to pay. If the only method is bank transfer be wary as genuine companies will have credit card payment options as well.

If you believe that you have been a victim of a travel-related fraud should register your complaint online to the police at Action Fraud. You can report fraud and cyber-crime to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by speaking to a specialist fraud and cyber-crime adviser on 0300 123 2040.

Tags: , , , , ,