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Action Fraud, "Get Safe Online", and ABTA data suggests fraudsters extracted over £7m from holidaymakers in 2018, where people assumed they paid for a holiday or tour package.
Still, later, they realise it does not exist. In 2019 over 5K was scammed, and the numbers are constantly increasing because they are using sophisticated techniques to target people.
In 2017, £6.7m was stolen from travellers. The average amount lost in the year was over £1.5K, and 47 per cent were related to airline tickets and 38 per cent related to accommodation booking.
A survey on holidaymakers found at least one in five suffered. For example, some who book attractive discounted deals find they have been tricked when they reach the spot when they could not find an immediate replacement for the previous bookings.
Sometimes, they reach the payment page and realise it was not a legitimate page, and they are then directed to a fake property site built on another platform.
The criminals post fake listings on social media or other online platforms, offering attractive prices to people for the deal. They try to get registration details or trick them into using Paypal.
The user may get a call from someone pretending to be from a representative of PayPal who gives a bank account number and a reference number to make payment.
The report from ABTA claims almost half of the victims lost through airline tickets where they were offered to book airline tickets on a fake site, got an imitation ticket from the site, or paid for non-existent airline tickets.
In addition, some reported losses during accommodation and package deals where users failed to check the site's authenticity, and some did not know how to check the trusted sites.
Sometimes, the flights are cancelled by the flight operators and the travel companies, where they may claim they are refunding for all the cancelled tickets but will never pay back the money into the user's account.
In addition, some phishing emails seek information from users to get their tickets claims. Instead, the user is redirected to a fake website – created to steal their financial information or infect the user's device.
The crimes are at their peak during the holiday season of summer and December. The fraudster creates bogus sales scripts and adverts to attract buyers, steal images from popular hotels, and sell them as their own.
If they ask to pay through bank transfer or Western Union, it can be difficult to trace their actions, and the money spent is lost (as it comes with a clause non-refundable). People make the biggest purchases during the holidays for trips abroad, and in the excitement, they fail to see the wrong address of the mainstream operations.
As you reach the destination, it may not be the same hotel or airline you thought you were booking. If you are asked to watch a presentation to go on a holiday for free – it can be a fraud.
All who pay for holidays online should check the web address carefully, where you need to see if the domain name is legitimate or not. The payment site address should have HTTPS:// at the start instead of HTTP://.
The domain name should have .com or co.UK.
Many websites are made with misspelling and additional words to confuse the users, but the fraudulent ones often have low-resolution pictures and logos.
One should not make any payment to an individual bank account through bank transfer, where you need to enter all the account details. Do not decide in a rush to get a quick discount – bargain or other benefits, as it may lead you to lesser-known links and wrong destinations.
To avoid phishing, one should enter all communications, payments, bookings, and other details on trusted sites. If you have already made payment to non-existent sites – report it to the bank or get the card blocked to avoid money transfer.
Always seek customer reviews to decide about the holiday packages and compare the reviews from various reliable sites.
Some travellers lose money due to fake accommodation ads. Therefore, you should always call the owner of the property and double-check details to avoid risks.
Avoid connecting to public wifi at hotels or airports as unsecured networks where one can connect without passwords or logins can lead to other risks. You should not share bank details or other account details on unsecured/public networks. Instead, use VPN to lessen security issues.
Always have your card's company's consumer helpline number where you can report to block your card payment in case of a risk.
If you are using your card overseas, do not provide the pin to others while making purchases.
One should try to stay safe and do your research before booking a holiday.
Check all the documentation and related circumstances carefully before accepting the offer, and if something sounds too good to be true, get alerted. In case you have fallen for any such deal, report it to the regulatory agencies.
Do not reply to unsolicited messages and promotions related to holiday offers, as all the links and attachments in the emails can be from malicious web pages.
You can directly book the hotel from the airline or hotel website or contact a reputable agent.
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