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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 it) doesn’t exist, or it does exist but a fraudster has sold it to you. You might not realise you’ve been scammed until the flight tickets don’t work. Or you might 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 genuine?

Spend time researching holidays advertised privately to make sure they're not fake. 

You can look for online reviews and recommendations to check the accommodation really exists.

How do you know if a travel agency is real?

Check that any travel agents or tour operators you're dealing with belong to a reputable trade association. This could be ABTA or 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:

  • use safe sites when shopping online

  • use safe ways to pay, such as your 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)

  • check the cancellations policy before booking

  • 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)