• Use trusted sites, and always check the website URL to make sure it hasn't been altered
  • If you can, always pay by credit or debit card, it gives you extra protection as a consumer
  • Never enter your credit or debit card details to a site that does not use a security certificate – check for the padlock symbol and https://

Following our Fighting Financial Crime article, we take a closer look at holiday scams and fraud, and how you can protect yourselves.

Booking a holiday is an exciting time, especially when you're searching for that special getaway location. We've put together a helpful guide to help you keep aware of the potential pitfalls.

Scams are designed to catch you out with subtle differences and range from holiday bookings and time-share or holiday-share schemes to competitions claiming you've won a luxury holiday.

It's easy to be caught out, and it's not just older people who fall victim, there are plenty of examples of people from all ages falling victim to a scam.

The golden rule is "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".

The MET Police have created a really handy guide called the Little Book of Big Scams (PDF 4.9MB - opens in a new window). It's full of useful and easy-to-read information to help you protect yourself, your family and friends too.

Never give your details

You get a call telling you that you've won a luxury holiday, but to collect your prize you need to give your bank account details to the caller for an administration fee. Don't!

It's a scam, and the caller is trying to trick you into giving them your details. Once they have your account information, they'll try to get their hands on your money.

Holiday clubs and time shares

Not all of them are real, and some unscrupulous websites and people will take your money for holiday discounts that never happen, or offer shares in villas that don't exist.

Always do your research on a company or person offering holiday shares. It can be a rewarding experience if you're careful and remember your rights. They do have some legal dependencies and to give you're the information you need to be safe, Citizens Advice has put together the following guides:

What is a holiday club?

What is a timeshare scheme?

While you're away

Don't post on social media that you're going to be on holiday. And if you're away and really want to share photos, make sure your security settings are so that only your genuine or trusted friends can see them.

Posting to Twitter while you're away is a giveaway that your home may be unsecured.

The City of London Police, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published a holiday fraud protection advice leaflet (PDF 1.44MB - opens in a new window) with tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud.

Top travel tips:

  • Always check the web address is genuine and hasn't been altered by slight changes like switching from .co.uk to .org
  • Read more than one review, and do a thorough online search to check the company's credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
  • Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body like ABTA and displays their logo. You can verify membership of ABTA online
  • Never pay directly into an owner's bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money cannot be traced and is not refundable. Where possible, pay by credit card or a debit card that offers the same protection. 
  • You should check all receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don't provide any at all. 
  • Remember the golden rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Report it – victims of scams or fraud should contact Action Fraud

Sources:

Action Fraud - http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/fraudsters-are-conning-travellers-out-of-2.2-million-a-year-apr15

Citizens Advice - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/borrowing-money/credit-cards/

Get safe online - https://www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/holiday-and-travel-booking/

ABTA - http://abta.com/

MET Police - http://www.met.police.uk/