Since the announcement on May 17 that Brits could begin to travel abroad to green list countries, many of us have been looking to book a holiday.
Whether you’re looking at a late summer or a 2022 trip, there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind – including restrictions, but also more dangerous scams.
Since bookings sky-rocketed, prices have too and this means savvy consumers will be on the hunt for a bargain when finalising their long-awaited holiday in the sun.
However, according to travel experts, fraudsters are ready to pounce on unsuspecting Brits, using a variety of sophisticated looking scams.
And, they could get you through emails, ‘spoofed’ calls, social media posts, fake apps or adverts to part holidaymakers with their cash.
The UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign informed The Daily Star Travel team of the scams lurking out there.
Some of the holiday scams you need to be aware of include:
Travel deal scams
Criminals set up fake websites offering ‘travel deals’ which are used to obtain money and information.
Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) scams
When travelling in the EU, people can access emergency and medical care with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
Criminals are capitalising on this new card to ask victims for payment details when the GHIC is free.
Vaccine certificate scams
As we await the government’s announcement on vaccine passports, criminals are targetting people with fake Covid certificates and passports.
Holiday cancellation refund scams
Criminals send out phishing emails or unsolicited calls advising people how to claim refunds with links leading to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or to infect your device with malware.
Caravans and mobile homes purchase scams
Those embarking on a staycation need to be on the lookout for fake ads and listings on auction sites for caravans or motorhomes that you think you’ve purchased doesn’t exist.
Payments are usually requested via bank transfer as opposed to using the recommended secure payment method.
Criminals are also asking people to pay using PayPal invoices to trick them into thinking that all is as it should be.
Here’s how to stay vigilant and protect your pocket:
- Be suspicious of any “too good to be true” offers – Where possible, book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company/agent that is a member of a trade body such as ABTA or ATOL.
- Always access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it in to the web browser and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or social media posts. The website should use the padlock symbol to indicate that the site is secure.
- Always use the secure payment option. These are recommended by reputable online travel providers and don’t accept requests to pay separately via a bank transfer. Where possible, use a credit card when booking holidays over £100 and up to £30,000 as you receive protection under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act.
- The GHIC, which replaces the European Health Insurance Card, is FREE to use and can only be obtained directly via the NHS website. You also don’t need to apply for a GHIC until your current EHIC expires.
Tony Blake, Former Police Officer and Take Five Fraud Expert told The Daily Star: “Britons across the country are eager to book their summer breaks and looking to snap up deals online. But unfortunately criminals are seeing this as an opportunity to strike.
“Beware of deals which look too good to be true. Criminals are setting up genuine-looking websites and social media pages offering ‘travel deals’ which ask for a deposit.
“These promised trips don’t exist, the deposits are never returned, and the website then disappears.”
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He continued: “Criminals are also exploiting holidaymakers through fake paperwork.
“Brits can now access medical care abroad with a Global Health Insurance Card, which replaces the EHIC.
“The GHIC is free through the NHS. But fraudsters are charging upfront payments to unsuspecting victims, and they are doing the same for fake Covid passports.
“If you are suspicious or someone is contacting you out of the blue then always remember to Stop, Challenge, and Protect your finances.”
To find out more about how to protect your finances against fraud visit Take Five to Stop Fraud.
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