The UK’s best community bank, Metro Bank, has named fake holidays – be they cheap flights, accommodation listings or rentals as the scam of the month for May.
Holidays are big ticket items. Metro Bank has seen a recent increase in consumers trying to buy flight tickets from less generic airlines or holiday providers due to the restrictions and lack of flights being offered by mainstream providers – but these are scammers at work. Whether renting a holiday home, camper van, motorhome or caravan, everyone should be aware of the scams that start to appear from May onwards as people search for summer holidays or last minute getaways.
Last year when the government announced the end of the first lockdown, camper van rental scams soared as holidaymakers looked for independent safe travel in a COVID environment and scammers capitalised on this by taking substantial deposits for camper vans that did not exist.
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 can ask for deposit payments - payments that they want paid quickly and in very specific ways to ensure they bypass any built in security protections.
“Scams can be seasonal and we want the public to be more aware of this so they can spot and avoid these scams, explains Adam Speakman, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank. “There are so many different types of scams circulating from receiving a message about a failed parcel delivery, fake holiday sites, through to large investment scams. The principle to stop all of these is the same, don’t be pressured to act hastily. Take five and stop for a moment, maybe even call family or friends to double check if this seems genuine before taking any action. Always trust your gut feel, if there is any doubt - it will usually be a scam.”
“Our key advice for any scam is - if you are being pressured to act quickly, move funds or share passwords you need to question and investigate further in case you are being scammed."
8 TIPS TO HELP AVOID BEING SCAMMED.
- Does the rental/flight price seem incredibly good value – a luxury rental for a bargain basement price for peak season? Scammers want to tempt you – is it all too good to be true?
- Use reputable online booking companies – be cautious, check out their reviews.
- Where possible, book directly with established reputable airline providers and check the airline is a member of a trade body such as ABTA or ATOL.
- To be financially protected pay for your deposit and holiday with a credit card or via a recognised merchant service such as PayPal.
- Criminals may use websites that appear genuine; check for subtle changes/errors in URL, genuine websites will have secure payment channels. Check that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser and that the website that you are visiting has ‘https’ at the beginning (although this doesn’t prove that the website is selling genuine tickets, it makes sure the website is secure).
- If you are being encouraged to leave a recognised selling platform to complete the purchase, you may forfeit your buyer protection from that site – don’t do it just to save money on fees.
- Can you check if the property exists? Try using Google Street View to check out the property and area. Using Google Images will let you see if the photos of the interior have been used elsewhere on the internet for other properties indicating it is a potential scam.
- Be wary of sharing any personal information – NEVER give bank details or personal information such as passwords or PINs, or transfer money quickly – especially if you are being put under pressure to do so.