Stealth & Mimicry Used In The Latest Travel Scams
You might be a seasoned traveller, but scammers are getting smarter than ever to try and get you to part with your hard-earned cash.
Here are some of the latest tricks and scams to be aware of to ensure you avoid unnecessary stress and disappointment that next time you decide to take a break.
There’s been a massive increase in the amount of third-party hotel and holiday home rentals scams recently, with fraudulent accounts offering great deals on fantastic properties that don’t exist.
Many holidaymakers have arrived at their destination after months of communication with the ‘owner’ only to discover that their perfect accommodation simply doesn’t exist and are left out of pocket with nowhere to stay. Remember, if things seem too good to be true, then they probably are!
The many fake accommodation-booking sites often pop-up as paid ads, appearing when you search for hotels online, in general. Only book with reputable accommodation providers using a secure website and do a Trustpilot search before you make contact.
Savvy traveller will know of this and keep a lookout, but be vigilant as some of these third-party sites try to mimic what the official hotels’ websites look like making you believe you are booking and paying directly with the hotel/resort. Be aware even when booking through reputable sites like Airbnb and Homeaway, as people have gone through extraordinary lengths to mimic the website’s booking process. If booking through reputable site, always pay through the site’s internal payment system and abort transaction immediately if asked to make bank transfers outside the system.
If you’ve found some flights with amazing prices that are far cheaper than you’d expect, do some homework before you book and check that the company is authorised to sell airline tickets.
Many travellers have fallen foul of unauthorised ticket sellers who issue fake tickets or fall off the face of the earth as soon as you’ve paid for the journey. It’s vital to do some research before you part with your bank details if you’re dealing with a new company or one you haven’t heard of before.
Take a look at their reviews and make sure that the website features the padlock symbol in the URL as this means that the website is secure.
Even with genuine sites, an important point to bear in mind is that URLs with .co.uk sites does not necessarily mean they are from the UK. Take into consideration that this can mean blurred accountability and unresponsive after sales service, if you encounter any issues.
Some destinations require a travel visa, and there are plenty of reputable organisations that can help you with the paperwork if you don’t want to do it yourself.
However, there are also plenty of tricksters online who seemingly offer the same service, but in reality, are just out to part you from your money. Either opt for a DIY approach for visas or check out the company’s reviews before you engage their services.
If opting for a DIY, when Googling visa applications, there are many commercial sites that let you assume that you are applying for the permit through official channels. You will probably get your visa but you’ll also have been stung with inflated fees.
Although this isn’t illegal, many airlines book more passengers on to a flight than the craft can accommodate as they expect a percentage of passengers not to show up and to maximise profit.
In some situations, all of the passengers arrive for the scheduled flight, and the airline will require volunteers to give up their seats in return for incentives, usually a free hotel stay, cash amount or a free meal.
Don’t feel obliged to give up the seat you’ve booked and paid for if the terms don’t suit you; it’s not your fault that the airline has overbooked the flight, so you’re under no obligation go on standby if asked.
You may be “strong armed” into giving your decision immediately, making it feel like this tough decision have to be made ASAP, or this fantastic deal will be taken up by others. So, if considering taking up the standby offer, take your time to do the maths carefully or just say no. Firstly, to do standby, you must not be in a hurry, as you may not get on the next promised flight or two or three, especially at peak season/times. And it is not always a guarantee that you end up landing at the airport you envisaged, requiring you to rent a car. A good and acceptable deal at first might end up costing you more, when all you want, in the end, is just to get there.