Avoiding the travel scams that could ruin your holiday

With booking fraud rising by 19% last year, anyone can be a victim of this crime. Here are some of the most common cheats – and the best ways to beat the criminals. Plus, we explain what to do if it happens to you.

Beat the criminals

Beat the criminals: the scams putting your money at risk

If you fall victim to booking fraud you could lose your money – and your holiday too.

"It was cheap but it wasn’t ridiculously cheap"

Louise thought she was booking through a big airline – but it was all a con.

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6 tips to beat fraudsters

Plus the telltale signs that should make you suspicious

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The expert view: could you be at risk of travel fraud?

Travel expert Jill Starley-Grainger explores the risks and explains how to avoid them when you’re booking your holiday.

Imagine turning up at the airport – bags packed, passports ready, full of anticipation – only to be told the airline tickets you’d paid for do not exist. Or being refused entry at your destination because the tourist visa you applied for online was fake. Or perhaps you make it all the way to your villa, trouble free – only to discover it’s a building site.

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What to do if you think you’ve been conned

Anyone can be a victim of booking fraud, so first of all, do not feel embarrassed. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and you can help others from falling for the same scam with these steps.

  1. Call your bank or credit-card provider: at Bank of Scotland, we take fraud very seriously, and will do everything we can to help. And if you paid with another bank account or credit card, let them know immediately, too. If you paid by credit or debit card, the process to claim via Section 75 or the chargeback scheme will be explained.
  2. Report it immediately to Action Fraud or 0300 123 2040: you will be given a crime reference number, so there is no need for you to alert your local police force. In fact, even if you haven’t fallen victim to a scam, but have genuine concerns about a holiday scam, you should still report that.
  3. Report it to the relevant trade body and/or the company you thought you booked with: if the fraudulent website displayed the logo of any trade body or was mimicking the website of a genuine company, contact them. This will alert them to the fact that either someone is using their logo or website imagery illegally, or, in the case of trade bodies, that one of their members is misbehaving, in which case, you might have recourse to claim some of the money back.
  4. Contact the credit agencies: you will have shared personal details with the fraudster, and they can now use this to attempt to get credit cards, bank accounts or loans. The main ones are EquifaxExperian and Call Credit. This will alert them to take extra measures – often requiring a special password or additional details – any time someone applies for credit in your name. Or let CIFAS, the UK’s leading fraud-prevention agency, know, and for a fee, they will alert the key agencies and financial institutions for you.
  5. Call your travel insurer: some travel insurers might cover holiday fraud, but always check your policy details to make sure.
  6. Tell your friends and family: if you were caught out, it’s likely your friends and family could be, too. Tell them about the scam and refer them to the advice pages on Action Fraud, ABTA and Get Safe Online to help them avoid becoming victims of fraudsters.

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