Milton Keynes residents warned against rise in holiday scams

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, received 1,907 reports of holiday and travel-related fraud in the 2020/21 financial year.

Although there has been a general decline in the amount of holiday and travel-related fraud, it is estimated that victims have lost a total of £2,205,251 - an average of £1,242 per victim.

Explaining the rise in reports of fraudulent holidays, Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: "We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends, following the coronavirus pandemic. However, criminals will stop at nothing when it comes to defrauding innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash.

"Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements.

"Regardless of whether you’re planning on travelling abroad, or going on a domestic holiday this year, remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Due to the extensive problem at hand, Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign (Monday 17 May 2021) to remind the public to think twice before handing over their money and personal information when booking holidays, following the government’s recent announcement on international travel resuming.

They have issued the following advice to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud:

  • Stay safe online: check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org.

  • Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experience, and warnings about the company.

  • Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website. If you're booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website.

  • Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card. You should avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.

  • Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.

  • Use your instincts: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please click here for more information

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online by clicking here or by calling 0300 123 2040.