BLOG: Online Fraud

Summer is here so it’s time to kick back and enjoy ourselves! However, while we relax and maybe spend more time online planning a holiday or festival, there are those who won’t have our best interests at heart.

In fact, figures from Action Fraud suggest the average amount lost per person to online fraud during the holidays in 2016 was approximately £1,200. In 2016, 5,826 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to Action Fraud. The most common types of fraud related to:

  • Holiday accommodation
  • Airline tickets
  • Sports, leisure and religious tickets
  • Timeshares and holiday clubs

In common with previous years, the numbers of people reporting travel or ticket fraud to the police jumps in the summer. This is a very clear indication that fraudsters are targeting the most popular periods. Customers may be particularly vulnerable in 2017 as the overseas travel industry is reporting good early booking levels with accommodation and flights at a premium. Fraudsters could take advantage of this by offering “good deals” over the summer. These will then fail to materialise, leaving people out of pocket and with either no flights or nowhere to stay.

KEY MESSAGES:

Stay safe online:  Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org

Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.

Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.

Pay safe: Be cautious if you’re asked to pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money is very difficult to trace and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card or a debit card.

Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices as well as terms and conditions. Be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.

Use your instincts: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.

Source: Scottish Government - Cyber Resilience Strategy Blog

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