Money Wellness
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calendar icon11 Apr 2024

Lloyds bank warns holidaymakers they could be falling for a scam when booking a holiday

Victims to holiday scams are losing around £765, with holiday purchasing scams rising 7% in the last year. People aged 35 to 44 - often booking trips for their families – make up over a quarter of victims (27%).

Lloyds Bank found that Facebook, including Facebook Marketplace, is the main place victims are targeted by fraudsters, with 49% of holiday scams starting there.

But that’s not the only place scams will start. In fact, fraudsters are also using legitimate booking sites to draw victims in.

Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Whilst legitimate cheap flights and beautiful holiday homes are definitely out there, it’s important people take steps to ensure they are purchasing something that is real. For example, Facebook Marketplace is probably not the best place to find flights for your next holiday. And often, when things seem too good to be true, it’s because they are.

“Always take the time to think about purchases you make online, and when in doubt, always book through a trusted retailer. When it comes to booking stays, always use your card and don’t be fooled by hosts asking you to ignore the websites rules and transfer money directly to them.”

Flight tickets

The bank’s data shows flight tickets are the most common fake item sold in these holiday scams.

 Lloyds said that after the pandemic, there was an increase in the price of flights, which led people to turn to social media and lesser-known websites to look for cheaper deals. This is the perfect environment for scammers to strike. They’ll create fake adverts for cheap flight deals or lure victims by pretending to sell airline tickets they can’t use.

 Then they’ll offer a low price and ask for a fee to change the name on the ticket. Once the money has been sent, the scammer will disappear, leaving the victim with less money, and without a ticket.

 For holidaymakers who don’t go abroad, you’re not off the hook because the second most commonly reported holiday scam is buying caravans.

 

Airbnb and Booking.com

  Fraudsters will sometimes start the scam using a legitimate website or app to list fictional rentals with fake photos or photos stolen from other listings. They might make victims pay a deposit through the website at first, but then they’ll ask for further payments offline through bank transfer or Paypal. Once they’ve been paid, they’ll disappear.

 Lloyds has also discovered that in some cases, fraudsters have also been able to compromise the Booking.com mobile app, using it to successfully message holiday makers, pretending to be a booked hotel.  While pretending to be the hotel, the scammer will ask for a further payment, to be sent in a different way to the original booking, or for card, bank account or other personal information. 

How do I avoid holiday booking scams?

Lloyds shares some handy tips for holiday bookers to be aware of as scams evolve:

  • Buy tickets and hotel stays from trusted retailers or direct from the airline or hotel.
  • Always use your debit or credit card.
  • When booking stays through websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com, only pay through their systems. Do not transfer any money directly to the host.
  • If you’re booking a hotel through a third party – like Booking.com – and get what appears to be a message from the hotel asking for more money after the original booking has been confirmed, do not pay this without contacting Booking.com or the hotel directly using the contact details on their websites.
  • Be cautious on social media- You don’t know if the user or what they’re selling is the real deal. If you’re  buying a caravan or motorhome, always see the item in person before handing over any form of deposit.
  • Don’t book out of pressure. If a seller is trying to rush you, or bombarding you with messages, take a step back because this could be pressure selling.
  • Pay attention to warnings. Your bank is likely to provide a warning when you set up a new payee or make an unusual payment. Follow any advice provided.
  • Always look at reviews on verified sites such as Tripadvisor. 

For more information on online scams, visit our handy guide.

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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