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Home Vacation Holiday scams: Don’t let fraudsters ruin your getaway with these travel tips

Holiday scams: Don’t let fraudsters ruin your getaway with these travel tips

by Staff

According to a new report from Action Fraud, £155,000 was lost to fraud last year, while 89 reports of holiday fraud were received by the PSNI.

We take a look at the best way to arm yourself with the right knowledge to keep your money and holiday dreams safe.

Red Flags:

Too-good-to-be-true prices: If a deal seems significantly cheaper than similar options, alarm bells should ring.

There is an old saying, that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers lure you in with irresistible prices that aren’t realistic.

An all-inclusive trip to Disney World isn’t likely to be £200 each, while flights, rental car and hotel accommodation isn’t going to cost you around £150 altogether either.

Check the usual prices of the kind of holiday you are looking to go on and if the discount you’ve found is realistic and from a legitimate seller.

High-pressure sales tactics: Reputable companies won’t force you into a rushed decision.

Be wary of phrases like “act now” or “limited-time offer”, as they are designed to rush you into booking.

This is not to be confused with enthusiastic travel agents, but instead, if you’ve found a rep from a company you’ve never heard of and they’re pushing you to book as soon as possible (particularly if it’s via social media). Take a step back and think.

Requests for direct bank transfers: Always pay with secure methods like credit cards that offer fraud protection. Never wire money directly to an unfamiliar individual or company.

This can be difficult, particularly if the advertisement is via social media where more holiday home landlords are advertising their properties, but look at reviews, and check comments under photographs. Are there photos of guests at the property? Does the weather around the property look realistic for Portrush?

Fake websites and listings: Scammers create realistic-looking websites and listings that mimic well-known travel companies or vacation rentals.

A good tip is to check the photographs on the website and look up the area on a website such as Google Maps.

Check if the area matches the images and there are no drastic differences — such as the hotel is advertised as a city break, but the location is showing a desert.

Also, a good starting point is to check there is a padlock in the URL of the website you are using, this means it has a secure digital certificate and isn’t a replica or shadow/clone website.

Remember AirBnB and are multi-million-pound businesses — they are going to have a professional interface on their websites, if links are dead or the logo is pixelated, click off it.

Steps to take to protect yourself

Research, research, research: Before booking anything, thoroughly research the company or property you’re interested in.

Look for independent reviews on platforms like Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, and Google. Lots of properties on social media also publish reviews, so do check and read them. Never rely on the information solely on the company’s own website.

Verify ATOL/ABTA protection: In the UK, reputable travel companies offering package deals with flights must have ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) protection.

Companies selling holidays without flights might be covered by ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents). Check their memberships on the organisation’s website.

Check the website address: Look for subtle misspellings or unusual domains ( instead of .com/ that might indicate a fraudulent website imitating a real company.

Contact the property directly: If booking a holiday rental, contact the property owner or management company through a secondary source to confirm the listing’s legitimacy.

If you’re worried about the hotel and don’t believe it’s legitimate, attempt to find a telephone number and ring them. If the phone number doesn’t work or reconnects to a different country’s dial code, it’s likely a scam.

Hotels thrive on phone business, if a phone number doesn’t work or one isn’t available, this is a red flag.

Use your credit card: Paying with a credit card offers additional protection in case of fraud. Avoid debit cards and definitely don’t send cash.

Always take out holiday insurance from a reputable company — even if it’s just for a few days.

Check your policy and ensure elements like fraud are covered.

Trust your instincts: If something feels off, even if you can’t pinpoint why, walk away and find a trusted vendor.

What to Do If You Think You’ve Been Scammed

Report it immediately: Report the fraud to your bank or credit card company and to the relevant authorities like Action Fraud in the UK.

Collect evidence: Keep screenshots, emails, and any other relevant information related to the scam.

Spread the word: Alert others by posting reviews or sharing your experience on social media to help protect fellow travellers.

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