Planning a holiday has never been easier, however, fraudsters can create convincing looking scam websites or create fake profiles on accommodation booking websites. Social media pages and advertisements are also increasingly being used for these holiday scams, which have their own risks. However, there are some steps that you can take to protect yourself.
Use reputable and official booking websites
Avoid social media (e.g Facebook) group pages and advertisements. If you do go through a social media page make sure you can confirm that the person or company you are talking to is legitimate.
Check the website address - HTTP or HTTPS
Booking websites might be using the HTTP protocol to send and receive data. The HTTP standard lacks encryption, which allows attackers to readily intercept data if they are on the same network or have access to your data channel. The use of unencrytped HTTP Protocol in mobile booking apps can lead to something called Man in the Middle attacks. Make sure that the website address have 'HTTPS' or check for the lock siymbol beside the address.
Take care when bookings on the Hotel's official website
If the hotel is not familiar to you and not part of hotel-chain, take extra care when making bookings. It is safer to make bookings on a reputable third-party website (exclusive of any additional perks you may get) as this avoids the possibility of the hotel's website being unsecure.
Does the booking price seem too good to be true?
When looking for reservations, check whether the price for the flight or holiday is a lot cheaper than the prices shown elsewhere? If so, you should be suspicious, and especially with the flight prices because these are mostly set by the airline.
Look for the ABTA and ATOL Logos
When booking through a UK travel agent, check that they have the ABTA and/or ATOL logos. You can use their respective member search facilities to identify if a booking agent is legitimate. Other countries may have their own alternative authorities.
Credit Cards and Payment Gateways
Any request for payment through bank transfer should raise alarm bells. Bank transfers are difficult to trace and are typically non-refundable. Payments by credit card is the safest option as certain protections are in place to recover any funds lost owing to fraud. Likewise payment gateways such as PayPal offer additional protections.