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How To Avoid Holiday Booking Scams

Matt Crisp June 28, 2020

With the lockdown restrictions slowly being eased, it looks like holidays might once again be on the cards, but don’t fall victim to fraudsters as you rush to book a break.

The government is expected to make an announcement on 3 July to give summer holidays the green light as ‘non-essential’ travel abroad and in the UK is given, although, as reported by National Geographic, there will be a new reality of holidays during the pandemic.

But whether you’re heading to find a beach abroad, or looking for luxury coach hire in Manchester for a staycation in the UK, the scramble to get something booked may mean it’s rich pickings for scam artists, so be warned and be on your guard against holiday scams.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, there has been almost £5 million lost to fraudsters using coronavirus related scams, so here are some tips to keep one step ahead when booking your trip.


Never pay by bank transfer

The demand for staycations this year has seen criminals cash in with fraudulent listings for caravans and motorhomes and payments by bank transfer.

These are advertised at very attractive prices, which tempts people into believing they are getting a great deal when the reality is that they simply do not exist, and do not arrive once paid for.

Potential buyers are told they are unable to view the vehicles are caravans due to lockdown restrictions but asked to make a payment via bank transfer. Unfortunately, this offers the buyer very little protection should things go wrong, it’s as good as handing over cash to a stranger.


Get website savvy

If you discover a website making offers that are too perfect to be true, then do some investigative work before booking.

A website might appear to be similar to the genuine organisation’s own but look for subtle changes in the URL to indicate it is a scam.

Always check the website address starts with ‘https’ and look for the padlock symbol at the top of the webpage; signs that the website is secure. Also, check for spelling mistakes on the website and any marketing emails. On a glance, you may miss that it has been spelt ‘Airbmb’, or similar.

Always make sure there is a verified secure payment option, as recommended by reputable websites.


Check company credentials

A package deal will provide you with financial and legal protection should anything go wrong with your holiday.

If your package holiday contains flights, then look for the ATOL accreditation, which is a financial protection scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority. Always double check any advertised ATOL accreditation is genuine. You can do this on the CAA website.

For cruise, coach or rail trips, check for ABTA protection, which covers UK tour operators and travel agents. Look for a membership number and check this back on the ABTA website.


Protect your booking

Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, paying by credit card means you have legal protection if the company you’re buying from goes bust or doesn’t deliver what was promised. However, you would need to buy directly to afford that protection. Going through a third party, such as a travel agent may mean section 75 won’t apply.

If you’re looking to get away for a UK break this year, then let someone else handle the driving with luxury coach hire in Manchester.