Friday 10 May 2019

Finance Fridays – Holiday Travel Accommodation Scams

We were looking at the dangers of spread betting for last week's Finance Fridays. Now we are in May and the weather isn't as scorching as last year people are thinking of booking a summer escape to warmer climes. Sadly the keenness of Brits to grab a bargain when in search of the sun makes many of us vulnerable to scammers.

The UK travel trade association ABTA has found that more than 5,000 people were the victims of holiday booking fraud last year. On average each person lost an average of £1,380. How is this happening and what can you do to stop being the next victim?

One of the easiest scams to commit is offering accommodation that either doesn't exist or belongs to someone else. Many of these scams are committed by the setting up of fake websites. Before you book any accommodation check out the website first. It's very easy to set up a legitimate looking website but are some clues to look for. Make sure you know the exact location of the accommodation rather some vague description of the area. This way you can look it up on Google Maps and see the surrounding area. Even a genuine company may be trying to hide the fact it is next to the local sewage works.

If someone is trying to use photographs of someone else's property as a holiday rental you can try to do a reverse image search on it to see if it comes up on another website. Also look at other websites advertising properties in that location to see if it is being marketed under a different name.

Look at the website carefully. Is the website name pretending to be another reputable company? Look for little changes such as hyphens, using .org instead of or .com, or substituting a zero for the letter 'o'.

We love checking out reviews but be aware that reviews for scam sites will be fake as well. However if the website is a scam then somewhere on the internet there will be trail from either current or past accommodation scams. Do searches for the company and website name and also for properties in the location you are planning to go to.

Check the website for contact details. Have they got active Twitter and Facebook accounts? This there an address and telephone and does it exist? Scam websites will ask for payment in the form of direct transfer of the money owed. Another scam is having a payment page where you can enter your credit or debit card details. This will be a fake page and won't take payment. You will then get an email or phone call saying that your payment hasn't gone through but then asking you transfer the money directly from your bank account. Credit card and some debit cards will afford you some protection if you are scammed but not if you have personally authorised money to be transferred from your bank account.

Whatever part of your holiday you are booking the golden rule is if it looks too good and too cheap then it probably is. Trust your instincts.

Have you ever been caught out when booking a holiday? Are you wary of booking online?

If you want to join in with this week's Finance Fridays then add your link to the linky below. Any post concerning financial matters is allowed. Full details here. It doesn't have to be published today as you have until 23.55 on Tuesday 14th May 2019 to join in.

Finance Fridays

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