As the UK slowly begins to open up again many people are understandably excited about booking a much-needed getaway. However, Take Five to Stop Fraud – a national campaign that aims to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud – is urging the public to exercise caution when planning their trips, as the rush to secure holidays has also led to a rise in fraudulent activity.

Criminals are profiting off the easing of lockdown restrictions by targeting customers who are looking to get away this summer. From fake accommodation listings to bogus travel companies, it’s important to recognise the signs of a potential holiday scam before committing to a purchase.

What is holiday fraud?

This type of fraud occurs when unsuspecting holidaymakers are duped into paying for a trip which either doesn’t exist or is entirely different from what was advertised to them.

This could take the form of accommodation listings which aren’t real, fake activities or transfers and can even go as far as forged plane tickets.

How can you stop it from happening to you?

We recommend using the following advice as a guide to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of holiday fraud.

1. Avoid deals which seem too good to be true

Most scammers will offer prices which are far lower than the cost of a similar holiday with a different provider. This is especially true of airline tickets. If you suspect that a particular price seems too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

2. Check the reviews

When booking accommodation, make sure that you thoroughly read the listing’s reviews. If you’re booking a holiday package with a particular company then make sure that you do your research and check their reviews across multiple independent sites, such as Trustpilot or reviews.io.

3. Proceed with caution when paying

When paying for a holiday it is best to use a secure payment system hosted on a reputable company’s website. However, if you do need to pay by bank transfer then make sure that you have done your research to ensure that the company is genuine, and contact them by telephone to verify bank details sent by email. Where possible, it is also a good idea to pay for your holiday via credit card as you will receive some financial protection under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act.

4. Don’t be fooled by the website

Unfortunately, criminals are highly adept at creating official-looking websites which can be incredibly convincing. Signs that a website might not be genuine include spelling mistakes in the domain name or across the site itself and no padlock symbol next to the web address (which indicates that a site is secure).

5. Check they’re an ABTA member

If you’re booking through a travel company, check that it is a member of a reputable trade body such as ABTA. You can do this by searching for the company on the ABTA website. If you decide to book your holiday independently then just make sure that you are following the rest of the advice listed above.

Report suspected fraud

If you think you may have been a victim of fraud, call us immediately on 0330 355 0355. We're here 8am-6pm weekdays and 10am-4pm weekends for fraud queries. If abroad, call +44 (0)117 9739339.

Explore our information and advice about fraud – know what to look out for and how to stay safe.