Earlier this month, the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau revealed that the quantity of fraud committed in relation to travel has increased almost 20% when compared to last year, with the number of cases reaching nearly 6,000.

It’s also believed that these numbers aren’t quite the whole picture and that there’s a lot more that are left unreported. The study found that the average loss was around £1,200 per person meaning over £7.2million was fraudulently taken from holidaymakers this year already, but the impact doesn’t just stop at financial, it also impacts the health of the individuals affected.

Now, travel (and especially holidays) are meant to be a time to unwind, relax and recover from the stressful hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. It’s why we all look forward to our next sun-chasing break and save up that rainy-day fund so carefully for the occasion. The worst thing in that situation would be to find out that what you paid for wasn’t going to be delivered, and a fraudster had escaped with your hard-earnt holiday funds… So, what’s should you be looking out for to stay safe?

Deals that are ‘too good to be true’

Now this the definition of ‘grey area’, but it pays to be suspicious. As the well-known phrase states; “when something looks too good to be true, it usually is”. The travel industry reported particularly good sales figures at the start of the year, with accommodation and flights at a premium – so fraudsters are likely to offer ‘discounted rates’ late in the day for the summer.

Payment by Bank Transfer or Cash

If a seller is after payment by only these methods, a little warning light should be going off. No seller should deny card payments – and remember, Credit Cards usually offer protection of their own, this is by far the safest option if available (and it always should be!).

You’re in no rush, seriously

If you’re feeling an unusual amount of pressure to part with your money in a short time window, don’t let it distract you from your research and due diligence. It sounds like an obvious one, but it’s so very easy to get whipped up in the ‘final 10 minutes of a super-discount sale!’ that logic can abandon you whilst you fight to get your card details out…

When online, stay vigilant

Knocking up fake websites with a slightly altered domain name is a fraudster's bread and butter. Keep an eye out for any oddities, such as a ‘.org’ when you were expecting a ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’ for example. Don’t be fooled by boooking.com or eazyjet.co.uk!!! Another little giveaway may be whether the site is secure (https://) or not (http://) – this isn’t fool-proof though, some big sites aren’t yet secure on every page, and some fraudsters will go to the effort of picking up a cheap certificate for extra confidence!

Do some research...

If you’re unfamiliar with a brand, do some digging. Google the company, check it’s legitimate, and look for reviews. If someone’s been stung, there will likely be someone spreading the news!

Check accreditation, certification and T+Cs

Big name brands will commonly by ABTA registered, with flights being ATOL protected (or similar if not based in the UK). These should give you confidence but remember it’s pretty easy to copy the little certification logo and stick it on a website, so take it straight from the horse’s mouth and confirm it with the authority themselves.

Now, T+C’s aren’t going to mean anything if you’re dealing with a fraudster, but it’s always good to know your rights if you are dealing with a legitimate company. Similarly, T+Cs can be a giveaway of a con-artist, as they’re often copy/pasted from a legit site, sometimes leaving in some incorrect references!

Trust your instincts

I know this likely won’t help too much – it’s as useful as someone saying, “I told you so!” after the event has passed – but this should be the biggest indicator. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. There are plenty of options out there, and a whole load of comparison, research, review and discussion sites out there to help gather information and build your confidence.

If all goes wrong, report it

It’s heartbreaking if it does happen, but if it does, please report it. Go to actionfraud.police.uk and let everyone know so that others don’t fall into the same trap.

Good luck, stay vigilant, and happy holiday hunting!!

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