Holidaymakers warned to watch out for fake deals amid cost-of-living pressures

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People booking holidays are being warned to be wary of scammers, amid concerns that pressure from the cost of living could be pushing them to take more risks with their cash.

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Holiday fraudsters can lure people into paying by bank transfer through fake but convincing holiday adverts as well as fraudulent websites and phone calls.

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The rising cost of living in general can make people more vulnerable to scams as they search for less expensive deals.

Holiday booking website Airbnb and online security experts Get Safe are urging people to be vigilant online.

Tony Neat, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “With the cost of living rising, we want to help everyone keep their hard earned money safe and urge people to be cautious when it comes to booking a holiday.

“Trust your instincts and remember: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

A quarter (25%) of people said they would not take a holiday if they could not get a good deal, rising to 30% of 18 to 34 year olds, according to a survey of 2,000 people across the UK in December In out by Opinion.

One in six (16%) people said they would be prepared to book impulsively as soon as they were offered value, if it meant potentially paying less.

A similar proportion (15%) would risk paying directly via bank transfer if they felt it would save them money.

One in 10 (10%) would buy a holiday through a provider they were unfamiliar with if it meant paying less.

Amanda Couples, general manager for the UK and Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: “This year, many of us may be keen to save some money when booking a holiday, making it an ideal time for scammers to Take advantage of those who are searching. A good deal.”

Here are some tips from Get Safe Online when booking a holiday:

1. Never click on links you are not expecting. Remember that fake links can take you to a fake website designed to mimic companies you are familiar with.

2. Beware of unusually cheap deals or high deposit amounts. If a deal or offer sounds too good to be true, it may be a scammer and it is best to end all communication immediately.

3. Paying with a credit card can give you extra protection in case something goes wrong. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, a person may be able to make a claim with a credit provider if the merchant lets them down.

People may also want to check whether the company involved is a member of the trade association ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents).

Holidaymakers booking flights may wish to check coverage under the Atoll (Air Travel Organisers’ Licence) Financial Protection Scheme.

Michael Budge, Head of Atolls at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Even with the sharp rise in the cost of living, there is a real appetite to travel abroad this year. Deals can sound tempting, but before booking, we urge everyone be sure to do some research to stay travel-savvy and reduce your risk of getting scammed.

“Consumers tell us that they feel it is important that their holiday is protected by the atoll and we want people to have peace of mind knowing that they will not be left out of pocket if a bad situation occurs between booking and traveling .

“Always check it is financially protected by the atoll, watch out for hidden extras like baggage fees and seat assignments, consider paying by credit card and take out travel insurance when you book as these are all bookers Top tips for anyone on a vacation.”

Airbnb also recommends that when using its website, people should look at reviews from other guests and stay on its platform to book, pay and communicate.

If anyone feels that they have been defrauded, they should inform their bank and the police.

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