Holiday booking often involves trying to locate the best deals, but sometimes, in an bid to save money, tourists can end up being scammed if they don’t spot the warning signs.
So how can you avoid being scammed the next time you book a holiday? “If it looks too good to be true then don’t book it,” Nick Cooper, founder and co-owner of holiday accommodation company Villa Plus, told Express.co.uk.
According to Nick’s travel advice, the most common holiday scams are those that offer high-priced accommodation – such as villas with private pools – but the images shown on the website have actually been downloaded from another, genuine site.
There are five tell-tale warning signs to look out for when you’re booking a holiday.
“The first is using mobile telephone numbers for contacts, or not even answering them,” said Nick.
“The second is a new website or using a domain name that has recently been transferred.
“Another is showing availability when others are full. Look out for ‘non usual’ arrival dates or durations such as 12 nights.
“A fourth warning sign is cheap prices, and everything you ask for is always available.
“And lastly it’s impossible to firmly establish and confirm where they are based.”
There are several ways to know if you’ve been scammed. “One is that someone emails you shortly before your arrival and advises you there is a problem with the villa and your holiday is cancelled but they will refund you,” Nick explained.
“Another giveaway is that no-one meets you at the airport when they said they would and then, as they give genuine addresses, you arrive at the villa to find it is already occupied.”
The third way to know is when they simply stop replying to your emails.
Sadly, once you’ve been scammed there’s not a lot you can do to recover your money.
“You should contact your bank if you paid by transfer and contact ActionFraud,” advised Nick, “but you have very little chance of getting your money back and there is nothing you can do about it.
“The crooks could be operating from anywhere in the world. You have to painfully accept you have been scammed and get on with your life.”
Fortunately there are methods to avoid being scammed. “Check out when the website was established or when it may have been transferred,” said Nick. “Can you absolutely 100 per cent verify where the person or company is that you are dealing with – is there a local number?”
You can look for truly independent reviews – and be sure to ignore any reviews written on their own site.
Nick’s top internet savvy tips are as follows: “Download their accommodation images and do an online image search, also flip the image over and do one as well. You can copy some of their written text and search for it on the internet and see if they have copied it from other sites.”
Another good way to avoid being scammed is to pay by credit card, recommended Nick. “But ensure you are paying them directly by credit card and not simply going through a third party and then they ask you to advise that third party to transfer the money to them.”
The key is to not be fooled because they give you answers you want to hear. “You can spot a fake website if you do checks,” said Nick, “but when you suddenly find the accommodation you want at the price you want and on the exact dates you want so not let that cloud your judgement.”