Reports from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, show that the number falling victim to holiday fraud has soared by a fifth. In 2016, 5,826 cases were reported, up nearly 20% on the previous year.
Websites offering non-existent airline tickets, online accommodation and timeshares were amongst the types of scams reported. Fraudsters are cashing in on the high summer demand for flights and accommodation, and often offer very cheap deals that appear, and sadly turn out to be, too good to be true. The services promised don’t materialise, leaving travellers out of pocket, with no holiday, flights or accommodation.
Victims are asked to pay by cash or bank transfer, as the thieves claim these are the only payment methods that are protected by their bogus insurance schemes. The average amount lost is £1,200.
BOOKING YOUR HOLIDAY SAFELY
When booking, it pays to do your research thoroughly. Check whether the company is a member of a registered trade body. Never pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash, and means that the money is often untraceable and not refundable. Paying by credit or debit card is safer. Check all the paperwork you receive carefully, especially any small print.
NEW SMISHING SCAM
Victims are reporting receiving text messages purporting to come from their bank, informing them that new direct debits have been set up. They are advised to ring the number provided if they haven’t authorised these. The number provided in the text isn’t genuine and if the victim calls, they are tricked into giving away their bank details, meaning that the scammers can access and use their bank account to make fraudulent transfers. To avoid falling victim to these scams, always ring your bank using a number from your bank statement or other secure source.