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Holiday fraud warning

The travel trade association ABTA, the official UK reporting line Action Fraud and Get Safe Online are warning the public about holiday fraud.

Over 5,000 people reported to Action Fraud that they had lost a total of just over £7m to holiday and travel related fraud, an increase on last year, when 4,382 victims reported losing £6.7 million. The average amount lost was £1,380 per person but, as in previous years, besides that financial cost, victims have also reported the emotional impact caused by this crime. As with others sorts of fraud, the actual total figures relating to travel fraud may be even higher, as many victims may feel too embarrassed to report.

Over half, 53 per cent, of the crimes reported were related to the sale of airline tickets. These reports were made consistently throughout the year; the largest individual loss, of over £425,000, was made in August 2018. The next most common fraud at 25pc, related to the sale of accommodation, with a peak in reported losses in October. This indicates that many victims report their loss after the end of the summer holidays the busiest time of the year for travel and a popular target for fraudsters.

Action Fraud, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud – and on how victims should go about reporting it:

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.
Pay safe: Wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
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.
Report it: Victims should contact Action Fraud
Get free advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.

For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud see: http://abta.com/fraud.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “ABTA sees at first-hand the damage caused by travel fraudsters after customers find out their much anticipated holiday or trip to visit family and friends does not actually exist. This is why ABTA, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online work together to make people aware of the steps they can take to avoid falling foul of a holiday scam.

“The cost to victims is not just financial; this crime causes very real emotional distress. Fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited, as they know people will be looking for good deals. As victims often find out just before they travel or even in resort that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking compounding the financial costs and emotional distress suffered by victims. ”

And Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “We all love to go on holiday to relax and spend time with family and friends, however as this year’s statistics show, holidays are also an opportunity for fraudsters to trick you out of your hard-earned money. There is a startling emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud bringing the feeling of embarrassment and disappointment to those we love, so we want to ensure that people feel better able to protect themselves. We know that fraudsters are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it is important that you do your research when making travel arrangements. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, contact Action Fraud.”


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