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Holiday fraud

Holiday fraud occurs when you hand over your money to a travel agent, website, or an individual, only to discover that the holiday, or sometimes just parts of it, don’t actually exist. 

Fraudsters use fake online adverts, bogus sales calls, emails and text messages, to lure in potential holiday goers.

The people carrying out this type of fraud will usually request that you pay for your holiday by bank transfer or with cash, as these methods of payment can be difficult to trace and are not refundable.

Behaviours that put you at risk 

  • Paying for a holiday, travel, or accommodation via direct bank transfer or cash.
  • Entering your payment details into a webpage that doesn’t have the padlock icon (https) in the address bar.
  • Responding to unsolicited calls, emails or texts offering holidays for incredibly low prices.

How to protect yourself

  • If you’re unfamiliar with the travel company you want to book a holiday with, do research online to ensure that they are reputable. Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails, texts or calls offering holidays at very low prices. Remember, don’t click on any links within these emails and texts, or open any attachments, as they may lead to malicious websites or downloads.
  • Whenever possible, pay for your holiday by credit card as it offers increased protection over other payment methods. Always look for the 'https' and locked padlock icon in the address bar before entering your payment details.

What you should do if you’ve been a victim of bogus holiday fraud

  • Report it to Action Fraud.
  • If the company is a member of a trade body such as ABTA, report the fraud to them.
  • If you paid for the holiday using your credit card, report the fraud to your card issuer.

Booking accommodation

  • The safest way to protect yourself from booking bogus accommodation is to book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company.
  • If using a travel company ensure they are a member of a trade body such as ABTA, the Travel Association or the Air Travel Organisers Licensing, (ATOL).
  • If you decide to book independently you should exercise caution. Establish if you are dealing directly with the property owner or a letting agent.
  • Research the property or hotel that you are booking - verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps. Do the images match those on the advert? Check whether there are any reviews for the accommodation from previous visitors.
  • If dealing with the property owner ask them about the property and the area in detail. Can you confirm that what they tell you is accurate from your own research?    
  • Research any agent that you are dealing with via an online search engine.  Are there any reviews of the website or agent?  Ask what checks the agent makes on the properties that they are advertising and its owner?  Does the website use the padlock symbol to indicate the site is secure?
  • When paying for accommodation never pay by cash or use a Money Transfer Agent such as Western Union or Moneygram as these are not intended for commercial payments.
  • If possible pay by credit card as this may protect your payment. 
  • Always check the terms and conditions to confirm exactly what you are being sold. Double check your booking before travel, particularly if there is a long gap between making the booking and arrival.
  • Be aware that fraudulent adverts do exist. If you have any doubts do not book it!   

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.