With the rise in DIY (do it yourself) travel arrangements, we all need to be careful about holiday scams. Without a travel agent looking after our needs we need to be extra careful online booking travel accommodation, flights, car hire, airport parking, foreign currency and travel insurance.
We’ve listed the 10 most common holiday scams to help you be aware of what dangers that lie ahead of your relaxing break on holiday.
1. Fake accommodation websites
We like to use holiday accommodation websites to research and book a place to stay while on holiday. Websites like Homeaway, Tripadvisor and Airbnb offer thousands of properties with many photos to help you choose the perfect place. However, some scammers will go to the trouble of replicating a travel website to trick you into giving them your credit card details.
Even when using the official websites you could be fooled into paying direct by bank transfer for a villa or ski chalet that doesn’t exist. All of the websites we mentioned above allow private users to advertise their properties and unless you use the websites payment system you could end up losing all your money and having nowhere to stay when you arrive.
2. Free holiday scams
Free holiday scams have being going on for a long time. It is not really a scam as you can get a free holiday with a timeshare company but you’ll have to put up with some hard sell techniques that often mean holidaymakers end up committing to buy somewhere that isn’t a great deal for them.
3. Fake travel companies
Just like fake accommodation websites there are also fake travel companies that will happily take your hard earned money for flights or holidays that don’t exist. This used to be common practise in the UK charter flight business where a company would trade for many months legitimately and build up credit with suppliers only to go bust at the end of the summer season leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded.
Fortunately, the industry has been cleaned up these holiday scams and most consumers know to look out for the ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) logos. Buying from a travel company who is a member of ABTA and/or ATOL protects their money and arranges for travellers to be flown home if the travel company goes bust while on holiday.
4. Car hire excess claims
Car hire companies will always require you to sign a rental agreement which usually has a big excess which they can deduct from your credit card if you bring the car back with any damage like a scratch or bump. They are legally able to charge you the full excess which can be on average £300 even if the cost of repair is much less. Companies will try and sell you insurance to cover the excess on pick up but the best option is to buy a policy in the UK before you go.
5. Over priced petrol scam
This is known to happen mostly in Florida close to tourist attractions. Petrol stations don’t display their prices and motorists end up paying over the odds to fill up.
6. Fake documents
Travelling to some countries requires a Visa. Travellers have been known to arrive at their destination only to be told their Visa is fake. Imagine being subject to holiday scam like this and not being able to enter the country you’re travelling to. We recommend you use official sites and if you’re not sure visit the UK Foreign Office website first to get links to other countries official websites.
7. Wi-Fi hacking
Beware of free gifts! It is tempting to use free wi-fi at airports, hotels etc. but beware of using these services especially when entering personal data, banks details and credit card information. Hackers can hack into wi-fi connections and steal your valuable data.
8. Fake tickets
Always buy from official ticketing websites or from resellers who members of STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers). Members of STAR have signed up to a code of practise for selling tickets. Also, check that resale of tickets is allowed as some tickets will be for the named person only.
9. Flat tyre hi-jacking
Hi-jackers have been known to let the air out of tyres at motorway service stations so that the driver has to pull over and then is held up at knife point by the hi-jackers following behind.
10. Dodgy hotel staff
This is when scammers dress up as hotel staff to gain entry to your room and steal your possessions. Holiday scams like this are rare but be on your guard at all times!
11. Airport Parking
Let’s not forget airport parking holiday scams. Companies that setup using a field or something similar to park cars until they get closed down by the local council have operated for years offering airport parking. The problem with this setup is you can’t be sure your car will be safe, secure and insured.
At Parking4less we only work with well established airport parking operators and official car parks. Your car will be parked securely with us.