Fraudsters stole more than £7 million from unsuspecting holidaymakers and other travellers in 2018, a new report reveals today.
ABTA – The Travel Association, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online are joining forces to warn the public about the dangers posed by holiday fraud and give advice on how to spot and avoid travel related fraud. The report, compiled by Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, details the most commonly targeted areas of travel and the methods used by unscrupulous criminals to defraud the travelling public.
Over 5,000 people reported to Action Fraud that they had lost a total of just over £7 million to holiday and travel related fraud, an increase on last year, when 4,382 victims reported losing £6.7 million. The average amount lost was £1,380 per person but, as in previous years, in addition to the financial cost, victims have also reported the significant emotional impact caused by this crime. The three campaign partners also believe that the actual total figures relating to travel fraud may be even higher, with many victims feeling too embarrassed to report.
Over half, 53%, of the crimes reported were related to the sale of airline tickets. These reports were made consistently throughout the year, however the largest individual loss, of over £425,000, was made in August 2018.
The next most common fraud at 25%, related to the sale of accommodation, with a peak in reported losses in October. This indicates that many victims report their loss after the end of the summer holidays the busiest time of the year for travel and a popular target for fraudsters.
Top tips to avoid travel fraud
Action Fraud, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud – and on how victims should go about reporting it. This advice includes the top tips below:
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 abta.com.
Pay safe: Wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
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.
Report it: Victims should contact Action Fraud via actionfraud.police.uk
Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/holiday-and-travel-booking/
For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please see: abta.com/fraud