Shop online safely

Holiday scams

You can find great holiday deals online. But look out for fake websites that seem real but are really a scam.

The last thing you want is for your dream holiday to turn into a nightmare.

What to look out for:

  • Scam emails and text messages - Fraudsters sometimes send messages pretending to be from real companies. They may have links that lead to a fake website, or put a virus on your device.
  • Spelling mistakes - Fake sites spell words differently to trick you into thinking you’re on a well-known website. Check how they spell things like the site address, as it may use a name like Lioyds and not Lloyds.
  • Odd looking web pages - Fake sites often don’t look quite right. The colours and logo may look different to what you’d normally see.
  • Amazing deals - If a price is a lot lower than other online sellers, it might be a scam.
  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
  • Odd ways of paying - A fake site may ask you to pay by direct bank or wire transfer. These are hard to trace. If things go wrong, you may not get your money back.

What you can do:

  • Take your time - Make sure an offer is genuine before you choose to buy.
  • Book with a trusted company - It’s best to book a holiday with a company that is ABTA or ABTOL protected. You can use the ABTA website to make sure a company is real.
  • Make sure a site is safe - You can use the ABTA website to go directly to a holiday company’s website. That way you can make sure it’s a real site.
  • Choose a safe way to pay - When you pay on a site use a normal method, like your debit or credit card. Be careful if you pay another way.

Home rentals

You can find great deals on sites like Airbnb and Facebook. But fraudsters can use these sites to trick you into booking rentals that don’t exist.

What to look out for:

  • You have to leave the site to pay - Fraudsters may ask you to pay by email and not on the booking site. You should only pay on the booking site.
  • Odd ways of paying - A fake site may ask you to pay by direct bank or wire transfer. These are hard to trace. If things go wrong, you may not get your money back.
  • Amazing deals - It could be a scam if the property is really nice but the price is much lower than other similar properties.
  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.

What you can do:

  • Use the booking site to pay - Booking sites have safe ways to pay. So don't pay away from the site.
  • Ask friends and family - See if your friends and family can recommend places that they’ve used before.

Next topic: Ticket scams

Previous topic: Buying from people online


Buyer Beware

  • Read all the details - Read all the details about what you’re buying before you pay for it. Does the description match 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 information.
  • Know where you're buying from - Check the location of the seller you're buying from, especially if they're not well-known. It's easier to complain and get your money back from companies that are based in the UK and EU.
  • Search for FAQs - Most online shops have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page. This can help you quickly find key information.
  • Keep track of what you buy - Check your bank account often to make sure there are no unknown payments.

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 here:

I don't recognise a payment on my credit card

I don't recognise a payment on my debit card

Think you've been a victim of fraud?


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

Contact us now