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Which? says tricksters are selling non-existent flights and hotels via social media and plausible websites. Buyers only learn they’ve been duped when they arrive at the airport or resort.
Tourists who have already been disappointed by cancelled trips also face being tricked. They have been targeted by cold callers claiming to be from airlines, travel agents and banks who wheedle out personal information to process the “refund”.
In some cases the conmen spoof genuine phone numbers and research booking details to appear credible.
Which? says there are four more traps people are falling into which relate to holiday admin.
One appears to be an NHS website for applying for digital vaccine passports but is actually a phishing device to steal personal details.
Unscrupulous firms are also using the additional travel paperwork related to Covid and Brexit to charge travellers up to £75 for passenger locator forms that can be obtained free.
International driving permits for Spain are also being sold for £36.25 – they cost £5.50 from the Post Office.
Other greedy merchants have been charging fees for the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card), which should also be free. The consumer group is urging online platforms, banks and telecoms companies to do more to secure their systems.
Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “Criminals are exploiting the pandemic and the demand for holidays, laying new traps to trick unsuspecting travellers out of their money.
“Our advice for consumers is be wary of unsolicited calls and messages, and be cautious about holiday deals from unfamiliar firms.
“If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, you should report this to Action Fraud and your bank. Anyone who is struggling to get their money back from their bank should contact the Financial Ombudsman.”
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