Holidaymakers lose millions to travel scams

Online fraud has increased by 425% year-on-year

Travel scams are increasing

People booking their holiday online are being warned by ABTA, the Travel Association,  to be on their guard against fraudsters.

According to a City of London Police report released last year, travel fraud is up 425% year-on-year, and costs holidaymakers £11.5 million.

Be Smart

This fraud comes from fake websites, online scams and non-compliant travel companies that have no financial protection in place.

As part of an advertising campaign, Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said:

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive - copyright ABTA




“Booking a holiday should be an exciting experience, however it can be ruined by clever and unscrupulous scams.

“We have seen a significant increase in fraudulent activity over the past year, so we are encouraging all holidaymakers to stop and think about the company they are booking with.”

What to look out for

ABTA has produced a list of tips that will help to reduce the risks faced by holidaymakers looking for a great deal.

Businesses not providing financial protection

In 2016, ABTA passed on the details of more than 100 travel companies that were selling package holidays without having the correct financial protection in place.

Scam websites

These are websites that are set up purely to defraud customers. This is an area of growing concern for ABTA. The organisation advises travellers to look for ‘https://’ and a padlock symbol in the web browser’s address bar before sharing any personal or financial information.

Cloned websites

Fraudsters can clone legitimate websites but will change the last part of the web address, such as using ‘.org’ instead of ‘’, or misspell the correct web address. Check that the website address that appears in the top window is correct.

If you are suspicious of a website, carry out a web search to see if you can find out whether or not it is fraudulent.

False credentials

Holidaymakers are becoming more aware of the logos to look out for. So some fraudulent companies are now using these logos to lower the guard of their prey.

The right to use the logos and the associated membership numbers can be checked via the issuing organisation’s official website.  For example, the CAA website makes it easy to see if the company does hold an Atol.

Payment via bank transfers

Holidaymakers should always be suspicious when the only payment option is a bank transfer.

Sally Francis, senior writer, said:

“A bank transfer is a payment from your bank account to somebody else’s. It is completely direct with no middleman involved.”

Unlike paying with credit cards (the middleman) which offer protection against fraud, bank transfers are unprotected.

“It’s no different to giving somebody cash. It would be quite difficult to give everyone protection for all the money they hand over.”

So a bank transfer is just like buying something from a stranger down the pub, who then runs off.

“You wouldn’t expect somebody to give you that money back [in this case].”

Travel scams are on the increase.

What you should do if you become a victim of online fraud

Holidaymakers who have been the victims of a travel-related fraud should register their complaint online to the police at Action Fraud or by speaking to a specialist fraud and cyber-crime adviser on 0300 123 2040.