Beware of these five travel scams

Police warn of huge rise in fraud

Updated: 
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It's the busiest time of year for booking a holiday - but holidaymakers are being warned to take care when booking their break.

Travel agent and tour operator association ABTA says it's seen a massive increase in fake websites, online scams and dodgy travel companies that have no financial protection in place.

In fact, travel fraud is up 425% year on year and costing holidaymakers £11.5 million, according to the City of London Police.

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"Booking a holiday should be an exciting experience, however it can be ruined by clever and unscrupulous scams. We have seen a significant increase in fraudulent activity over the past year, so we are encouraging all holidaymakers to stop and think about the company they are booking with," says Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive.

"I would encourage people to book with an ABTA travel company, so they can rest assured that their holiday company is genuine and covered by our Code of Conduct."

And to help holidaymakers protect themselves, ABTA has put together a list of scams and how to spot them.

Businesses not providing financial protection
In 2016, ABTA caught more than 100 travel businesses selling package holidays without proper financial protection in place. All package holidays sold in the UK should not only give a refund or repatriation if the travel company goes out of business, but should also offer other specific legal rights in the case of problems with the holiday. People booking a holiday that is ATOL protected should always make sure they receive an ATOL Certificate.

Scam websites
Some websites are set up purely to defraud customers, and these scam websites are an area of growing concern for ABTA. On a legitimate website, there should be 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://'. If you don't see this, be very wary.

Cloned websites
These are websites that are copies of a genuine site with subtle changes made, and they're often hard to spot. Fraudsters will 'clone' legitimate websites but will change part of the web address, for example from .co.uk to .org. Before you book, check that the website address that appears in the top window is actually correct; you can check through a web search.

Payment via bank transfers
Be suspicious when the only payment option is a bank transfer. Not only is this an indication that no bank is prepared to provide credit card facilities, but it means that if you are dealing with a scammer it will be virtually impossible to get your money back.

False credentials
Some fraudulent companies 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.


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