Holiday Fraud - Get Safe Online Campaign
When using the internet to research or book your holiday or other travel arrangements, the world is literally at your fingertips. However, there are risks associated with doing so – some specific to holiday and travel booking and some which are in common with other types of online purchases.
- Fraud resulting from making payments over unsecured web pages.
- Flight scams:
- Where you book a flight and receive a fake ticket, or pay for a ticket that never arrives.
- Holiday scams:
- Fake websites and email offers for holidays or villas that do not exist. They require you to pay a deposit, which you never see again.
- Fake competition scams defrauding you out of a fee to secure a holiday.
- Inadvertently advertising the fact that your house will be empty when you are away, by posting on social networking or travel tracking sites. Some insurance companies are now rejecting claims if homes are targeted by burglars while the owners are away on holiday and made reference to it on social networking sites.
- Ensure that any holiday or travel company unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them online. Ensure that they are a member of a recognised travel authority which offers financial protection and a complaints service.
- When possible, pay for holidays and travel using your credit card as this offers additional financial protection over other methods. Please note that your holiday or travel company may levy a surcharge for credit card payments.
- Double check all details such as travel dates, itineraries, destinations and travellers before confirming payment, as you may be charged for amendments.
- Take out travel insurance adequate for your destination, activities and everyone in your party.
- Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognise.
- If renting a private apartment or villa, call the owner/agent directly to ensure that it is legitimate. If the number is not provided, email and request it. Check reviews on TripAdvisor or similar sites.
- Get the full address of the property and find it on Google maps to check its location and legitimacy.
- Prior to payment, obtain a contract setting out terms and conditions of the rental, deposits, payment terms etc.
- Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the link is secure, in three ways:
- There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself ... this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
- The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
- If using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner will turn green.
- Some websites will redirect you to a third-party payment service (such as WorldPay). Ensure that these sites are secure before you make your payment.
- Safeguard and remember the password you have chosen for the extra verification services used on some websites, such as Verified by Visa.
- When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.
- Always log out of sites into which you have logged in or registered details. Simply closing your browser is not enough to ensure privacy.
- Keep receipts for all online holiday or travel bookings and payments.
- Check credit card and bank statements carefully after booking to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the booking.
- Before you post details of your travel dates on social networking or travel tracking sites, ensure that the correct privacy settings are in place.
- Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.
Please refer to the following websites for more information:
ABTA Association of British Travel Agents
ATOL Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing
AiTO Association of Independent Tour Operators
You can also find essential destination-by-destination travel advice and information on the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) website.