Following the government's announcement on how lockdown restrictions will be eased, Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday and travel fraud.
Police have issued a warning to the public to make sure that they think carefully before handing over any money or personal information when booking a trip away or a holiday this year.
Graeme Buck, Director of Communications at ABTA (the travel association) offered some advice when he said: “As travel restrictions begin to lift millions of us will be looking to book holidays both at home and overseas, which may place pressure on both availability and prices.
Fraudsters will take advantage of the fact that customers will be looking for good deals and they use increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited.
“Victims often find out just before they travel or even while on holiday that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking.
"City of London Police, Get Safe Online and ABTA have put together a list of tips to help customers recognise the warning signs of potential fraud which will help customers avoid both potentially significant financial loss and severe disappointment, at a time when getting away on holiday is more important than ever.”
How can I avoid falling victim to travel 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 experiences, 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 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 and be wary about 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 something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Get free expert advice: for further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
For more information and a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please click here.