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How to avoid holiday scams

The last thing you want when you head away on holiday is to find out you haven’t actually booked your flight or hotel room. 

Unfortunately, there are many hotel scams, villa scams and flight scams that promise great holidays which aren’t real. 

Either the holiday (or parts of the holiday) doesn’t exist, or it does exist but has been sold to you by a fraudster. You might not realise you’ve been scammed until the flight tickets don’t work or you turn up at the resort, airport or cruise terminal only to find you’ve lost your money. 

Ways to spot a holiday scam

As with many types of fraud, you should be suspicious of anything that looks too good to be true. Be wary of any holiday offers which are unusually cheap or ask for a high deposit.

How do you know if a holiday website is legitimate?

S pend time researching holidays advertised privately to make sure they're genuine. You can look for online reviews and recommendations to check the accommodation really exists.

How do you know if a travel agency is real?

C heck any travel agents, or tour operators, you're dealing with belong to a reputable trade association such as ABTA, or are part of the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) scheme.

How do you book a holiday online safely?

There are ways you can safeguard your money. Try following these tips when booking your holiday:

  • pay by credit card wherever possible as there's more chance you'll get your money back if something goes wrong. However, be aware that credit cards are subject to interest and fees if you don't pay off the balance in full each month
  • keep records of payment confirmations and receipts
  • if you make an online payment, don't follow a link in an email but type in a website address you know to be correct
  • make sure any payment page begins with ‘https’ and shows a padlock symbol, which means the communication link between you and the website is secure. But remember, the padlock doesn't guarantee an authentic site

What next?

Whether it’s a short break or a dream holiday, you can find out more about how to avoid this kind of scam by checking out Get Safe Online – it’s a joint initiative between government, police and businesses, which is supported by HSBC.

You can also find out more about protecting yourself against other common types of scams by reading our fraud prevention guide.

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