The average amount lost per person to holiday fraud last year was approximately £1,200, but losses are not just financial; they can also have an impact on health.
Over a quarter (26%) of victims say that the fraud had also had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being. Most worryingly of all, 259 people said the impact on them was severe, meaning that they had to receive medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy.
The most common types of holiday fraud relate to the sale of airline tickets, booking accommodation online as well as timeshare sales.
In 2016, 5,826 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to Action Fraud. The most common types of fraud related to:
- Holiday accommodation: Fraudsters are making full use of the internet to con holidaymakers by setting up fake websites, hacking into legitimate accounts and posting fake adverts on websites and social media.
- Airline tickets: where a customer believes they are booking a flight and receives a fake ticket or pays for a ticket that never turns up. In 2016, flights to Africa and the Indian sub-continent were particularly targeted, suggesting that fraudsters are targeting the visiting friends and family market and may well be making use of lack of knowledge of the strict regulations in place for the legitimate UK based travel industry.
- Sports and religious trips: a popular target for fraud due to limited availability of tickets and consequently higher prices.
- Timeshares and holiday clubs: The sums involved with this form of fraud are particularly high with victims often losing tens of thousands of pounds each.
Who Is Targeted Most?
The two age groups most commonly targeted are those aged 20-29 and 30-39, with older generations less likely to fall victim, particularly those over 50 who are perhaps more wary of “too good to be true” offers. The majority of those who are defrauded pay by methods such as bank transfer or cash with no means of getting their money back. Some fraudsters now actively encourage these payment methods by claiming that only these payment methods are protected by their own bogus insurance schemes.
Top Tips For Staying Safe When Booking A Holiday Online
- Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
- Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.
- Pay safe: Never pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money is very difficult to trace and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card or a debit card.
- Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices as well as terms and conditions. Be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
- Use your instincts: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For more information about our work, please visit www.safeinwarwickshire.com/cybercrime
Cyber Aware is a cross-government campaign, funded by the National Cyber Security Programme. They aim to measurably and significantly improve the online safety behaviour and confidence of consumers and small businesses (SMEs).
Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. Their website offers advice on how you can protect yourself, your computers and devices, and your business against the likes of fraud, identity theft, viruses and other potential online problems.