Holiday scams

We all need to get away from time to time.

This guide can help you to book a break without falling for a scam.

You can find holiday deals online. But the last thing you want is for it to turn into a nightmare.

Sites like Airbnb and Facebook may have some great places to rent. But fraudsters can use any website to trick you into booking rentals that don’t exist.

We’ve put together some simple rules to help keep you safe from this kind of scam.

Tips to avoid holiday scams

  • Book a holiday with a company that is ABTA or ATOL protected.

    Take your time to make sure an offer is genuine before you choose to buy. If a price is a lot lower than other companies, it might be a scam.

    Look for reviews from different customers. Find a company that has lots of good reviews rather than bad or no reviews at all.

    Use the ABTA website to:

    • make sure a holiday company is genuine, or
    • to go directly to a company’s website.

    That way you know a site is real and not fake.

  • When you visit a site, makes sure the pages look right. If the colours and logo look different in any way, it may be a fake site.

    Fake sites often spell words differently to trick you into thinking you’re on a well-known website. So check how a site spell things like the site address, as it may use a name like Bank ofScot and not bankofscotland.

  • Fraudsters can send an offer by email or text pretending to be from a real company.

    The message may want you to click on a link but it could lead to a fake website, or put a virus on your device.

    Never click on a link unless you’re sure it’s safe.

  • The safest way to pay for a holiday is to use your debit or credit card.

    If a site or company wants you to pay another way, such as direct to a bank account or by wire transfer, it could be a scam. If you pay this way and things go wrong, you may not get your money back.

Tips to avoid home rental scams

  • Booking sites have safe ways for you to pay for a rental.

    Fraudsters may ask you to leave a site to pay direct to a bank account or by wire transfer. These are hard to trace. If you pay this way and it’s a scam, you may not get your money back.

    Only pay on the booking site where you find a deal.

  • It could be a scam if the property is really nice but the price is much lower than other similar places.

    Make sure a deal is genuine before you pay.

    Ask lots of questions and look at reviews. Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.

  • Take Five

    You can get straight forward, impartial advice on how to avoid scams from Take Five.

    Action Fraud

    You can report a crime or get general advice from Action Fraud. They help banks and other companies combat fraud.

    Get Safe Online

    They offer advice on how to keep yourself and your devices safe from fraud.

    UK Finance

    UK Finance is there to support customers and to help make sure it's safe to bank.

    Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)

    The PRA is part of the Bank of England. Their role is to make sure banks act safely and reduce the chance of them losing money.

    Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

    The FCA is there to make sure banks work well so customers are protected and get a fair deal.


    CIFAS can help to protect your identity. They can stop fraudsters from using your details to apply for things in your name.

    Cyber Aware

    This is a government site that gives advice on how to stay safe online.


    This is part of the FCA site. You can use it to check on an investment or pension deals to help you avoid scams.

    Bank of Scotland does not control the content of any of the websites linked to on this page.

Think you’ve fallen for a scam?

You should contact us right away if you think you’ve been scammed. We can then guide you on what to do next.

Contact us now

Buyer Beware

  • Read all the details - Before you buy, read all the details about an item. Does it match what it says in the title and picture?
  • Be careful of free trials - If you agree to a free trial, check to make sure that you don't have to pay for it later on. Look for the terms that may be hidden in the small print.
  • Check the small print - Terms and conditions can be found in the small print. They should tell you about any hidden costs, as well as delivery and returns info.
  • Know where you're buying from - Check the location of a seller, especially if they're not well-known. It's easier to complain and get your money back from sellers that are based in the UK.
  • Search for FAQs - Some online shops have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page. This can help you quickly find key info.
  • Keep track of what you buy - Check your bank account often to make sure you know what all your payments are for.

Unknown payments and disputes with a seller

If you don't get what you thought you were buying, it may not be fraud. The same can be said if you see a payment on your statement that you don’t recognise. 

Learn more about checking payments and seller disputes

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Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.