It has just been revealed from a new report that there has been a 425% rise in the amount of money holiday makers lose to travel fraudsters. It has been said that part of the increase is likely to be due to crime previously going unreported and has risen to 11.5 million in 2015 compared to 2.2 million in 2014.
ABTA, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online have joined forces to warn the public about the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud due to the new and updated reports. The losses to the individual are substantial and stand at an average of £3000, and it is not all just financial as 44% have said the fraud has impacted their health.
Our specialist cruise consultant, Jodie said: ‘It’s so easy to be tricked into fraud! The ones doing it are always on the lookout for new ways to con travellers out of their money. As long as you’re careful and aware, it can be avoided’. You can read Jodie’s blog here.
The most common type of fraud relates to the sale of airline tickets and there has been a huge increase in the number of owner accounts that have been hacked into on popular sharing accommodation websites. Fraudsters have been targeting holiday makers and those who book last minute flights; 30-49 year olds are a common target, and many of them have young children.
In a twelve month period 4,910 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to Action Fraud and the majority had either paid in cash or by a bank transfer with no means of getting their money back.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA, said: ‘Members of the public who have been victims of travel related fraud also have to deal with severe disappointment of holidays or trips to visit loved ones being cancelled at short notice. ABTA would strongly recommend the public to follow the booking advice which we have created in partnership with the City of London Police and Get Safe Online to stop these crooks in their tracks.’
The most common type of fraud are:
-Airline tickets: a customer believes they have booked their flight and actually have been given a fake ticket or paid for one that doesn’t show up. The flights most targeted in 2015 were to India, Nigeria and Pakistan, suggesting that fraudsters are going after those visiting friends and family.
-Holiday accommodation: fraudsters have set up fake websites and hacked into legitimate accounts, posting fake adverts on websites and social media.
-Timesharers and holiday clubs: this type of fraud is when victims lose between £9,000 and £35,000 each which accounts for 26% of the total reported amounts lost.
-Sports and religious trips: this is a popular target for fraud due to limited availability for tickets to events. It’s been anticipated that the European Football Championships in France and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will attract fraudsters.
ABTA’s tips to keep in mind to avoid being a victim to fraud:
-Look for the logo. Remember to check whether the company is a member of recognized trade body such as ABTA and if you have any doubts you can verify membership online.
-Do your research. It’s up to you to do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials and to avoid relying on one review. If a company is defrauding people there’s a good chance consumers will be posting details of their own experience of it and warnings to other people.
-Stay safe. Check that the web address is legitimate and hasn’t been altered by any changes to a domain name. For example, going from .co.uk to .org
-Pay safely. Don’t ever pay directly into an owner’s bank account; this is like paying by cash and it makes it harder to trace the money back. Whenever it’s possible, pay be credit or debit card.
-Use your instincts. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is so don’t get too carried away and jump the gun.
-Check paperwork. You should make sure you study receipts, invoices, terms and conditions and be wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. Get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up when booking through a holiday club or timeshare.
-Report it. Victims of fraud should contact Action fraud by phone or register with them online.
Our specialist cruise consultant, Steve told us: ‘Holidays are supposed to be the best time of the year for families and couples so don’t let a fraudster ruin it! I always make sure I’m booking with a legitimate company and if I’m unsure, I stay away. Your money and time is yours and no-one else’s! You can read more of Steve’s blog here.
Have you ever been a victim to fraud? Do you usually follow any of ABTA’s tips when booking holiday’s? What are your thoughts on the statistics? Let us know in the comments below…// END - About the Author ?>