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Holiday booking fraud on the rise, says ABTA

Travel watchdog ABTA has warned that a new report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has found an increase in holiday booking fraud.

As a result, the two bodies have teamed up with Get Safe Online to highlight the dangers of this increasingly common type of fraud. The findings reveal that around 4,500 cases of fraud were reported and fraudsters stolen around £7 million from holidaymakers just last year. NFIB’s report also exposed the most common types of holiday fraud, with fake holiday accommodation affecting almost a third (30%) of victims in 2013.

Scammers advertise fake holiday villas and apartments, with holidaymakers arriving to find that they had nowhere to stay. The next most popular type of fraud was on airline tickets, which accounted for over a fifth (21%) of reported fraud. In this scam, customers either receive a fake ticket or no ticket at all and losses average around £1,000 per person.

People booking package holidays are also a target, with 17% of all victims falling foul of this scam. Attacks are directed towards group, sports and religious packages, so consumers are being asked to be careful when booking for the Brazil World Cup and Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “Fraudsters are conning unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers out of thousands of pounds each year - leaving them out of pocket or stranded with nowhere to stay through fake websites, false advertising, bogus phone calls and email scams.”

Surprisingly, less than one in 10 (9%) consumers do not research the travel company they intend to book with – and this could be contributing factor to the level of holiday booking fraud. In order to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, consumers should research the company and find out whether it’s a member of ABTA.

It’s also important to check the URL is the official website and not a fake one, as well as checking any paperwork received from the company. When booking a holiday, travellers are advised to use a credit card because of the added consumer protection under Section 75 of the consumer credit act. Travel insurance also provides an extra layer of protection and will ensure victims are refunded.

Date Created: 10 March 2014

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