What’s travel fraud?
Fraudulence is an increasing problem for both the travel industry and for consumers. The rise of internet booking, and the cultural shift away from the old model of high street travel agents has created a rich environment for fraudsters to flourish in, to the tune of a cost of £11.5 million last year alone. Statistics suggest a 425% increase in travel fraud year on year, leading to a massive headache for the travel industry, with heartache and ruined holidays for the consumer. So how do you protect yourself when booking online, and what sort of things should you be looking for?
Types of fraud schemes
They come in many forms, at the most extreme end of the scale there are entirely fictitious websites, peddling holidays that don’t even exist. But it can be a simpler thing, an act of misrepresentation; a villa not matching up to the one in the photo, or a hotel that’s still a building site when you turn up. It’s important to be a savvy consumer when making Online Bookings: a few precautions taken early on can avoid a lot of pain further down the line.
Keeping safe online
When making Online Bookings, it’s important to be absolutely certain that the website you’re using is a legitimate one. If you’re dealing with a villa agency, or airline, be sure it’s the official site by checking whether there is an “s” after the http in the website address, this stands for secure. If you’re dealing with a third party booking company, check to see whether or not they’ve been validated by ABTA. Not only does this mean that they’re legitimate, but it also gives you recourse to compensation if things go wrong.
Keep safe when paying
One common area of fraud is ripping off payments. Websites which only allow you to pay via bank transfers are a huge red light here, as the chances of recovering your money if it’s a scam are vanishingly small. To protect yourself against this sort of travel fraud it’s best to pay via credit card. This not only means denying potential fraudsters access to your bank account, but offers you protection if things go wrong, as most credit card companies compensate for fraudulent losses.
Always check the details
To avoid suffering the pain of arriving at your holiday destination only to discover that it’s not what you thought you were paying for, always check it out first. Look at visitor comments, and check review websites such as TripAdvisor. One way to check it out first is to view your villa or hotel via Google street view. Check it matches up to what you saw on their website. If it all checks out, you can look forward to your holiday with confidence.
Enjoy your holiday!
Whilst fraud is certainly a massive problem for the travel industry, you shouldn’t let it put you off booking that holiday that you deserve. Simply being aware that it’s an issue should lead to you taking a more cautious approach when booking your holiday. With a little research and planning it’s easy to book a wonderful, relaxing break, enjoy your holiday!
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