As Easter holidays approach and with many consumers looking to book their summer getaways, Metro Bank is warning about the prevalence of fake holidays which is its Scam of the Month for April.
Rising energy costs and oil prices have seen significant rises in the cost of foreign holidays and air travel. Consumer rights group Which? reports prices this Easter are up 51% on average, compared to last year and this is music to the ears of scammers who will advertise holiday rentals and camper van/holiday homes at exceptionally good prices to tempt consumers who are shopping around trying to find an affordable family holiday.
Action Fraud has seen a 120% increase in reports of holiday and travel related scams with an average loss of £1,868 per victim. 
“We have experienced a long cold winter and this combined with the rising cost of living is creating a perfect storm for fraudsters who will tempt consumers with affordable but ultimately fake Easter and Summer getaways,” warns Metro Bank’s Head of Fraud & Investigations, Baz Thompson. “Avoid clicking on any advert you see on social media which isn’t on a recognised sales platform or you could lose you buyer protection. Ensure you go and actually see the camper van or caravan for yourself and carry out thorough checks to ensure the vehicle exists and is genuinely owned by the seller before parting with any funds.”
Holiday scams aren’t just limited to international holidays – fraudsters also prey on those looking for UK holiday homes including camper van rentals. The most common scam is where consumers see a fake caravan/holiday home/camper van/motorhome listing advertised on social media or any other free ad site. When they enquire about available dates and rental prices, the “owner” will ask for deposit payments - payments that they want paid quickly and in very specific ways to ensure they bypass any built in security protections on the original website.
Metro Bank offers 8 tips to help avoid being scammed:
- Always access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it in to the web browser and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or social media posts. The website should use the padlock symbol to indicate that the site is secure.
- Ideally book through a reputable travel company/agent which are members of ABTA or ATOL.
- Carry out thorough research first and establish you are dealing with the genuine website, property owner or letting agent - check independent reviews. If you are purchasing a camper van or caravan make sure you actually see them before making any payments.
- Be cautious about cheap deals advertised via unsolicited emails or through social media ads.
- Avoid going through the ‘booking procedure’ via a follow up call after visiting a comparison site/ad as fraudsters often use these to gain your details.
- Be cautious if there are no secure payment options.
- Be cautious if you are being pressured to act quickly or the deal is time sensitive.
- If the only option is to pay by bank transfer – this should be a red flag - especially if it’s a payment to a personal account. Where possible use a credit card when booking holidays.
Baz Thompson concludes: “With the holiday season approaching and fraud accounting for 40% of the crime in the UK, consumers do need to be constantly on their guard. Do be extra vigilant with any offers that look too good to be true for holiday deals, caravans or camper vans. If you are being pressured to act quickly, or give money please be aware that this is likely to be a scam. Stop, Challenge and Protect yourself from becoming a scam victim.”