Following the government’s announcement that Lockdown restrictions will be eased, Action Fraud is warning that scams will be more prevalent than ever and to remain vigilant when looking to book your next break away.

Action Fraud and ABTA, The Travel Association, are warning members of the public to be vigilant when thinking about booking our post COVID-19 vacations this year. For those of us that may be lucky enough to be able to book a holiday this year, officials are warning not to be too eager and remain vigilant as the holiday scams are still out there and as ever, holidaymakers are a prime target for scammers.

In the past criminals have targeted people looking to book airline tickets or religious pilgrimages. They have also created fake websites with cheap deals to lure victims into booking with them.

Holiday fraud can be particularly distressing as it targets people who have often saved money and are looking forward to a much needed annual break away in the sun. This year more than ever before people will be desperate for the chance to take a break as the majority of us have been confined to our homes. But authorities want us to remain vigilant so we don’t get caught by the scammers. Criminals will approach victims via the phone, text message, email or social media and offer tantalising deals that are often too good to refuse and lure people in.

Action Fraud recommend the following to avoid fraud:

Online safety:  Often overlooked as we rush to secure a great deal but act in haste, repent in leisure and it pays to check the web address is legitimate. A fake site will mimic a real one and will not be noticeable to an untrained eye, however by remembering to perform a simple web address check you can avoid fake sites.

Pay on a credit card:  Always use a credit card as this protects you under section 75 consumer protection laws and never pay directly into someone’s bank account, this money will be virtually impossible to get back through your bank.

Research the company: Don’t just rely on what a sales agent is saying to you, check multiple outlets for reviews. It’s harder for a scammer to create thousands of fake reviews so check a reputable review site for more information before making a booking.

Use your instincts: If a deal sounds far better than what you have seen anywhere else and is frankly to good to be true, then chances are it probably is. If you have a doubt, don’t hand over your money.

Director of Communications at ABTA, Graeme Buck told Action Fraud: “As travel restrictions begin to lift millions of us will be looking to book holidays both at home and overseas, which may place pressure on both availability and prices. Fraudsters will take advantage of the fact that customers will be looking for good deals and they use increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited. Victims often find out just before they travel or even while on holiday that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking. City of London Police, Get Safe Online and ABTA have put together a list of tips to help customers recognise the warning signs of potential fraud which will help customers avoid both potentially significant financial loss and severe disappointment, at a time when getting away on holiday is more important than ever.”

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