Scam artists work in all kinds of ways to trick people out of their money, including targeting eager holidaymakers. Whether it’s an international holiday or a UK staycation, experts from Metro Bank are urging Britons to be aware of how scams might catch them out.
According to the bank, when UK holidays resumed last year, a number of scams sprung up across the internet.
These include those targeting hopeful holiday homeowners.
“Last year when the Government announced the end of the first lockdown, camper van rental scams soared as holidaymakers looked for independent safe travel in a Covid environment, and scammers capitalised on this by taking substantial deposits for camper vans that did not exist,” explained a report from Metro Bank.
It turns out, some of these holiday scams are most prevalent on social media sites.
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“The most common scam is where consumers see a fake caravan/holiday home/camper van/ motorhome listing advertised on social media or any other free ad site.
“When they enquire about available dates and rental prices, the ‘owner’ will ask for deposit payments – payments that they want to be paid quickly and in very specific ways to ensure they bypass any built-in security protections.”
In a bid to help consumers “spot and avoid” these fake holiday listings, Metro Bank has put together some handy tips.
“Scams can be seasonal and we want the public to be more aware of this so they can spot and avoid these scams,” explained Adam Speakman, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank.
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“There are so many different types of scams circulating from receiving a message about a failed parcel delivery, fake holiday sites, through to large investment scams. The principle to stop all of these is the same, don’t be pressured to act hastily.
“Take five and stop for a moment.
“Maybe even call family or friends to double-check if this seems genuine before taking any action.
“Always trust your gut feel, if there is any doubt – it will usually be a scam.”
Mr Speakman added: “Our key advice for any scam is – if you are being pressured to act quickly, move funds or share passwords you need to question and investigate further in case you are being scammed.”
Though caravan holiday scams have been on the up, holiday scams can occur for any type of vacation – be that at home or abroad.
The experts warn holidaymakers that if something looks “too good to be true” that could well be the case.
Holidaymakers should always book using “reputable online booking companies” and exercise caution including “checking out their reviews.”
If booking with an airline, Metro Bank recommends booking “directly with a reputable airline provider” and even going as far as to check whether or not the operator is a “member of a trade body such as ABTA or ATOL.”
Holidaymakers can stay financially protected by using a “credit card or recognised merchant service such as PayPal” to pay their deposit.
“Criminals may use websites that appear genuine; check for subtle changes/errors in URL, genuine websites will have secure payment channels,” explained the Metro Bank report.
“Check that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser and that the website that you are visiting has ‘https’ at the beginning. Although this doesn’t prove that the website is selling genuine tickets, it makes sure the website is secure.
“If you are being encouraged to leave a recognised selling platform to complete the purchase, you may forfeit your buyer protection from that site – don’t do it just to save money on fees.”
Furthermore, when booking hotels it is a good idea to make sure the property exists.
“Try using Google Street View to check out the property and area,” advised the experts.
“Using Google Images will let you see if the photos of the interior have been used elsewhere on the internet for other properties indicating it is a potential scam.”
Whether booking a flight, UK holiday home, or luxury apartment abroad, there is one thing customers should always bear in mind.
The expert concluded: “Be wary of sharing any personal information.
“Never give bank details or personal information such as passwords or PINs, or transfer money quickly – especially if you are being put under pressure to do so.”