With hundreds of holiday-makers scammed by online fraud, how can you protect yourself when booking your holiday online?
Reported internet-based scams have conned British holiday-makers out of £2.2m, ruining potentially thousands of people’s idyllic holiday plans.
A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has revealed that over 1,500 cases of holiday booking fraud have been reported to the police’s ActionFraud Team in the last year. Fraudsters posing as online travel agents, often hacking businesses’ websites and bank details, took fake bookings leaving their victims unaware.
The devious crimes also deliver the high emotional impact of victims not only being robbed of their money, but often only learning they have been scammed upon arriving at their holiday destination to find their booking does not exist. The crime has reportedly had a negative impact on the health of a third of the victims, requiring medical treatment atop the theft of their money. The majority of victims unfortunately paid by cash or bank transfer, as opposed to credit card transactions, meaning the defrauded money could not be returned. One unsuspecting holiday-maker was robbed of £62,000.
Scenarios include groups of people paying for accommodation and tickets for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, to find the bookings did not exist. In other cases, websites were hacked and bank details altered so that families making a booking found themselves without accommodation and unable to get their money back.
With so many people so cruelly scammed, how can you avoid this trickery and the disappointment of having your holiday plans stolen from you?
Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing (ATOL) protects people when purchasing a package holiday or flights. In 1973 it became mandatory under The Civil Aviation Authority for all travel organisers (arranging air transport) to hold an ATOL licence. By checking that a travel company is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and in possession of an ATOL licence, you will be refunded in the event of a disruption to your holiday package. Also, in the event the airline is unable to provide travel, flights and accommodation will be arranged for you.
Further to checking that a travel company is in possession of a valid ATOL licence, it is recommended that you protect yourself and your booking by using a credit card when purchasing online. Booking by credit card provides more consumer protection as there can be a right of redress under the Consumer Credit Act.
Paul McClorry is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor and Head of Travel Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
If you would like to make a holiday compensation claim, call us 24/7 for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or on +44 20 7657 155 if you are calling from outside the UK. Alternatively contact us online and let us know when and where to call you.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading personal injury law firm with more than 1,450 staff in 18 offices across London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Merseyside, Derby and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.