Holiday booking fraud is when people hand over money only to discover the holiday, accommodation or flight they paid for doesn’t exist.

Fraudsters are conning unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers out of millions of pounds each year or leaving them stranded with nowhere to stay through fake websites, false advertising, bogus phone calls and email scams.

The most common types of booking fraud are: 

  • Holiday Accommodation: Fraudsters are making full use of the internet to con holidaymakers by setting up fake websites, hacking into legitimate accounts and posting fake adverts on websites and social media. 
  • Airline tickets: Where a customer believes they are booking a flight and receives a fake ticket or pays for a ticket that never turns up.
  • Sports and religious trips: A popular target for fraud due to limited availability of tickets and consequently higher prices. It is anticipated that in 2016, both the European Football Championships in France and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will attract fraudsters.
  • Timeshares and holiday clubs: The sums involved with this form of fraud are particularly high with victims losing between£9,000 and £35,000 each in 2015. 

Top tips to help avoid holiday booking fraud

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 ensure the company is credible. If they’re suspect, other people may well have posted their experiences warning people off.

Look for the logo

Check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website and if you have any doubts, verify membership by visiting our Find a Member section.

If you're booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, then please visit the CAA website.

Pay safe

Never pay directly into an owner's bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money will not be traceable and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card (or a debit card that offers protection).

Check the paperwork

You should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and 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 on 0300 123 2040 or register via www.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