Holiday scams – what to look out for

June 27, 2017 3:51 pm Paul Mullin

We’ve all been in that position – bum pack on, wearing a ‘I love <insert name of place being visited> t shirt, creaking your neck to the sky to see the sights. Like a walking siren for would be scammers in the area. Or maybe that’s just me.  

Regardless, there is a need for everyone planning a holiday to be vigilant well before reaching your destination as the evolution of cybercrime means there are a host of scams to be wary of. 

According to Action Fraud, there’s been a sharp increase in holiday booking fraud. Almost 6,000 holidaymakers were victims of booking fraud last year, a total cost of £7.2 million and averaging £1,200 per victim.  

The most common frauds involved fake airline tickets, online accommodation bookings, and timeshare sales with scammers setting up fake websites and sometimes even hacking into legitimate accounts and posting fake adverts online. 

The concern is real. So, here’s some of the scams to look out for when thinking about your holiday: 

Beware of freebies

You may have noticed a lot of airlines seem to be giving away free airline tickets on social media sites. This may seem peculiar, that’s because it is. These usually promise free airline tickets in exchange for completing a quick survey. It’s common practice that you’ll be asked to share the survey on your social media page in order to get your free tickets, and in the process roping more people into the scam like this recent one falsely claiming to be from Delta Airlines.  

This allows scammers to profit from the collection of data when you share a fake link or page. They can also embed links on the survey that can allow them to hack into your personal details online. 

Vigilant Cash Withdrawal

Let’s face it, the difference between getting holiday money before you go away and just using the bank machines over there is pretty much negligible so more and more holiday goers are using bank machines abroad. Although many may not be aware of just how sophisticated bank machine scams have become.  

Scammers are known to have installed cameras onto the cash machine to record the PIN entered, it’s often too small to spot. They can also create a fake card slot and place it over the real one, this enables them to capture your card details from the magnetic strip on your card and can hold your card for the scammers to collect later. 

These scams have now extended to cybercrime with hackers stealing pre-paid debit card information and upping withdrawal limits following the collection of information. Cashing crews are then deployed to go on coordinated withdrawal sprees. One article mentions that crews in 24 countries once looted $40million in about 10 hours. 

Fake Websites

ABTA, the travel agent and tour operator association, has warned of a huge increase in fake and cloned travel websites. There has been a rise in website cloning scams, which can be hard to spot, these are copies of genuine websites with subtle changes e.g. copy a legitimate travel website but change part of the address from .co.uk to .org. 

It’s worth checking Google to get to the correct website and keep an eye out for a locked padlock symbol in the browser window frame as this will only appear on legitimate websites. 

The Great Wi-Fi Swindle

A worldwide phenomenon that has claimed many victims. It happens when a poor unsuspecting soul logs onto a free WiFi hotspot set up by con artists. This enables them to hack your laptop and access passwords and online accounts through the unsecure connection. So, please make sure on your holidays to only connect to safe, protected networks while on your holidays.  

Beyond the cyber threat, there is also just a general need to keep your wits about you as you may come across all manners of scams from illegal ticket touting to scammers acting as police. Top tip – if anyone goes around claiming to be a wallet inspector be very wary!