ABTA, the Travel Association, is reminding consumers about the risks of booking their flights and holidays on fake websites, after seeing an increase in the number of customer enquiries reporting fraudulent travel company websites. The Association is particularly concerned that in the run up to the popular booking season in January, members of the public looking for a bargain may be duped by fraudsters.
The growth of holidays and flights available on the internet has provided a wealth of opportunities for the travelling public but it has also provided opportunities for fraudsters. For the small expense of setting up a website, unscrupulous scammers are ripping off members of the public for large sums of money.
ABTA has put together the following list of warning signs to look out for. A combination of these signs may well be an indication that the website you’re looking at is not legitimate.
- Flight or holiday prices that are considerably cheaper than competitors. Flight prices are largely set by the airlines so although agents have some leeway in price, if the agent you’re contacting is charging significantly less than everyone else, this could be a sign that something is not quite right.
- Low resolution, “fuzzy” logos for trade associations and credit card companies.
- The only payment option is a bank transfer. Not only is this an indication that no bank is prepared to provide credit card facilities, but if you are dealing with a scammer it will be virtually impossible to get your money back.
- Non-receipt of tickets – constantly being “fobbed off”.
- If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences and warnings about the company. So if for any reason you’re not sure, do a search online before booking.
John de Vial, ABTA Head of Financial Protection said: “Our consumer helpline has seen an increase in calls from members of the public who are either checking the validity of a suspicious website or, worse, have already paid by bank transfer and then been fobbed off when trying to get hold of their tickets. We want to make consumers aware of this problem and stop them from being ripped off in this way.”
Members of the public who have been the victims of a travel-related fraud should register their complaint online to the police at Action Fraud. You can report fraud and cyber-crime to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by speaking to a specialist fraud and cyber-crime adviser on 0300 123 2040.