Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, is urging residents looking to book holidays online to remain vigilant against scams.
As COVID-19 restrictions around flying and travelling abroad lift or lessen, many of us will be heading online to book a holiday. However, cyber-criminals can create fake but realistic websites and emails offering deals to scam trusting members of the public.
Travel scams can present themselves in different forms such as fake websites selling fake tickets for flights or lodgings that do not exist and fake competitions defrauding people out of fees to secure a holiday.
To avoid being scammed, holiday-goers should:
- Research companies online that they have not heard of to check that they are reputable.
- Put the address of private accommodations into Google maps and websites such as TripAdvisor to check their authenticity.
- Check the website they are using is secure by looking for the padlock in the search bar and check the web address has ‘https://’.
- Pay with a credit card, when possible, as most credit card companies offer additional financial protection.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Technology has given us all the ability to book a full holiday from the comfort of our own home.
“However, it does come with risks. Cyber-criminals are experts at creating realistic websites, social media pages and emails pretending to offer too-good-to-be-true deals on holidays to scam trusting individuals out of their hard-earned money.
“It is so important, when conducting anything online, to double-check that what we are buying or signing up for is legitimate.
“Tips such as doing an independent Google search on the company and never giving your bank details over social media or email are easy ways to avoid being scammed.
“For more tips, anyone can visit www.getsafeonline.org, an organisation dedicated to keeping everyone safe online by providing information and advice on a wide range of topics including holiday scams.
“If you have been the victim of holiday fraud report it to the Police on 101 and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
Detective Inspector Andy Myers from Cumbria Constabularies Cyber & Digital Crime Unit said: “The development of technology has made it easier for criminals to exploit victims online.
“There are simple things you can do to protect yourself from these scams, if it seems too good to be true it usually is.
“Do your research into the company, read reviews, and check the website is secure before handing over you money to what could be a criminal.”
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online adds: “Although it can seem alarming that you might be scammed when securing your break, it shouldn’t be a reason to stop you from booking your holiday online.
“Instead, we urge people to take some time before booking a holiday to read through our safety tips and familiarise themselves with the small changes they can make to ensure they don’t get caught out by cyber-criminals.
“Customer reviews are invaluable but don’t rely on just one review, research thoroughly.
“Look out for companies that are members of professional bodies such as ABTA and be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer, even if you are offered a discounted rate.
“Paying by credit card will offer you much more protection from fraud.
“Finally, trust your instincts, don’t get rushed into making impulsive decisions – if something doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t.”