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 fake websites, online adverts, emails, social media posts and texts 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. 

Tips on spotting 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.

There are other things you can do to help avoid holiday scams:

  • Spend time researching holidays advertised privately to make sure they're genuine.
  • Look for online reviews and recommendations to check the accommodation really exists.
  • Check 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.

Protecting your money

It’s bad enough missing out on a holiday you’ve been looking forward to, let alone losing the hard-earned cash you’ve saved up to book it. However, there are ways you can safeguard your money in case you do fall victim to holiday fraud. 

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.
  • 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.

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 business, 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.