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Don't Let These Holiday Scams Spoil Your Holiday

Planning a holiday this summer?

Not long until the school summer holidays, a popular time for travelling abroad. Unfortunately, it is also a popular time for holiday scams.

Fraudsters are ready to catch us with a variety of holiday scams, both at home and at our holiday destinations.

They may pose as travel companies, with the intention of selling us fake flight tickets and accommodation bookings. There are also various scams to be aware of once you are at your holiday destination.

Find out how to avoid booking tickets that will take you nowhere, and read about the common holiday scams so you can avoid these situations and enjoy your holiday.


Looking for Flights and Accommodation?

Fraudsters are creating websites to advertise flights, accommodation and even timeshare offers.

Most tickets booked online fail to arrive, and those that are received are usually fake.

Sometimes payment via the website is not possible and has to be done by bank transfer.

In some cases customers are informed that payment has to be made this way otherwise they will not be covered by their insurance scheme!


How to avoid being conned

This year, business within the travel industry is good so there may be less discounted holidays on offer. Fraudsters will take advantage of this, so be particularly wary when booking any 'special offer' breaks.

Don't rush to book and pay quickly before the flights/accommodation are fully booked – first take some time to check you are not dealing with a scammer:

  1. Google, Bing and Yahoo the company - If the company is scamming people, victims may have posted details to warn people online, which should show in the search results. Don't just reply on reading a couple of good reviews, the fraudsters would have written these themselves.

  2. Book directly with the airline/hotel - or via a well known reputable agent.

  3. Check whether the company is a member of a registered trade body, such as ABTA - They may have a logo displayed, but remember to verify this is genuine via the ABTA website.

  4. Pay by card – If you are asked to pay cash or pay the money into an account, take extra care. Pay by card to benefit from free cover under Section 75 rules or the Chargeback Scheme.


What to do if you are a victim

Report the scam to ActionFraud - This is the national reporting centre for fraud which works with partners in government and the police. They are unable to investigate individual cases but any information you can give about the incident will help the police to stop the fraudsters.


Getting your money back

Your chances largely depend on how you paid:

Credit Card - If you paid over £100, you should be able to get the money back from the credit card provider by making a claim to them under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Purchases between £100 to £30,000 are covered for free under this act, which states that the credit provider is jointly liable with the supplier (in some instances more than £30,000 is covered although the criteria is more complex).

Debit/ Bank Card - You could try to claim the money back from the bank using the Chargeback Scheme if done within 120 days of becoming aware of the problem. The scheme is to cover purchases of goods or services that are not provided.

Bank Transfer - Contact your bank immediately and they can try to recover the money. If they fail to try properly, you could try making a complaint about it. If there is still no luck after 8 weeks, you could refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.


Current scams happening abroad

As we approach the school summer holidays we thought it would be a good time to find out what scams are currently going on at popular holiday destinations.

Being in another country, unfamiliar with their customs and unable to find your way around leaves us more vulnerable to being conned. However, having some prior knowledge of these scams can help.


Broken Taxi Meter

Don't use a taxi with a broken meter, or allow the driver to turn the meter off because you are told you will be charged less. Chances are you may arrive at your destination and be charged much more!


Taxi Fee Thief

A known scam in India, a helpful local may notice you appear lost and offer to find a taxi for you. They ask where you are going and tell you how much the fare will be, asking you to give that to them.

Do not pay them upfront. They may make out they are doing this to help you as the driver doesn't speak good English.

They then walk away leaving you in the car - which may not even be a taxi - or if it is you will then have to pay the fare a second time.


Cheap Tuk-Tuk (3 wheeler taxi type vehicles)

Be careful using these to get around as the driver may do a de-tour via an expensive shop they have some connection with and then push you to buy things. 

If you do want to use this form of transport, make it clear to the driver beforehand that you do not want to go to any shops and if taken to any insist that you will not get out of the vehicle. 


Fake Events/Goods

TipDo some research before you make expensive purchases! - I would decline any offers from any local people to take you anywhere to show you something. They may be genuine or they may be looking to get you on your own so they can use high pressure sales tactics to get you to buy something you don't want or isn't genuine - such as fake jewellery.

Example - This scam is currently happening in China and some other countries - You may be approached by a harmless looking girl who makes conversation with you whilst she is hanging around waiting for someone. She offers to accompany you somewhere to share her local knowledge with you and she says she is keen to help because she can practise her English. You may be invited to an art show to look at worthless art and then be subject to pushy sales tactics to buy something they claim is an incredibly valuable/one-off/rare piece. In actual fact, you have been ‘encouraged’ to buy junk.


Check your food bill

Some restaurants think they can con you into tipping twice. Check the bill - they may have listed a 'Service Charge' and a 'Gratuity'.


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