UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime (Action Fraud) is warning citizens to watch out for travel-related fraud following the government’s announcement last week that it would lift travel restrictions. The UK has been dealing with some of the harshest lockdown restrictions since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, and many citizens are looking forward to booking a much-needed vacation.
Even if summer holiday vacations may still seem unlikely, easing lockdown restrictions across the globe will usher in a new wave of holiday enthusiasts both at home and overseas.
This highly anticipated announcement is likely to prompt cybercriminals to resume the now-traditional vacation scams that bring in millions each year.
“We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends after the year we’ve all had,” said the head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith. “However, the surge in holiday bookings provides criminals with an opportunity to defraud innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash. Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
If you plan to book a holiday, follow these essential guidelines to avoid getting scammed or having your personal and financial information compromised:
- Research before purchasing your holiday through an ad you see on your social media feed. Never rely solely on reviews, as some scammers post fake reviews to boost their credibility
- Stick to legitimate holiday platforms, as fraudsters usually set up fake websites to advertise bogus and too-good-to-be-true offers
- Never pay by wire transfer or cryptocurrency transfers. Use a credit card or your PayPal account to ensure that you can easily dispute any fraudulent charges
- Install a local security solution with anti-fraud and anti-phishing filtering systems to ensure you don’t land on websites trying to scam you
- Be wary of any advertisements asking for additional fees to secure your booking, including airplane tickets, accommodation and sports events
- In case you’re calling a travel agency to book your next trip, don’t provide your credit card information or any sensitive information during the phone call. If the person or agent insists that you give these details or risk forfeiting your spot, it’s a scam