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Holidaymakers lost £6.7 Million in Scams Last Year- How to Stay Safe

April 9, 2018, 8:00 AM
  • Victims lost an average of £1,500 each
  • Over 500 were at risk of bankruptcy due to scams
  • Increase in booking fraud from previous years
  • Most common are airline tickets and accomodation
Holidaymakers had a record amount stolen in online scams last year. Image: Getty

Scammers stole £6.7 million from 5,000 holidaymakers last year, according to figures from the police.

City of London policy, the body behind Action Fraud, said 575 people received medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy as a result of booking scams in 2017.

The organisation reported that holidaymakers being ripped off by booking fraud has increased by a quarter in the past year, and victims lost £1,500 each on average.

The most frequent scams involved the sale of airline tickets or accommodation booking.

Travel fraud spiked over summer and Christmas, when people are most likely to head abroad.

Over the school holidays, families are also at the mercy of price hikes, which means they’re more likely to fall for a low deal.

Action Fraud said that scammers know that demand will be high and availability low, which means victims will become an easy target.

Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud, said, “Holidays are the perfect chance to relax and unwind, however, as this year’s statistics show, they are also an opportunity for fraudsters to trick you out of your hard-earned money.

“The startling emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud is highlighted in the latest figures, as 575 people reported that the harm to them was so severe, they had to receive medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy.”

How Can You Protect Yourself From Fraud?

Check that the website you’re booking with is legitimate and hasn’t been altered by slight changes to a different domain name- eg going from .co.uk to a .org site.

Research the company that you’re thinking of booking with. Make sure that they have multiple reviews and read through other customers experiences. If they are fraudulent then others who have been scammed will post details of their experiences.

Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body, as this will likely mean that they are legitimate and not just a scam company.

Wherever it is possible, pay by credit card, as you won’t be able to claim any money back if you have been scammed by paid by debit card.

Read through the terms and conditions, and be wary of any companies that don’t provide any.

If you have been scammed, make sure that you report it to Action Fraud.

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