Lloyds Bank is urging British sunseekers and staycationers to take care when booking a break this summer, with scams linked to holidays increasing by a third (33%) over the last year.
Based on analysis of relevant scams reported to Lloyds Bank, fraud relating to flight bookings was up by 13% in the 12 months to March 2022. The average amount lost to a flight scam was £2,955.
Scam reports linked to hotels were up by 18%, with the average amount lost £1,231. Packaged holiday-style scams also saw a 17% increase over the same period, with victims losing £2,342 on average.
However by far the biggest increase came from scams linked to fake caravan bookings (i.e. a short stay in a caravan, rather than the outright purchase of a vehicle), with cases surging by a massive 108% year-on-year. The average amount lost in each case was much lower though, at £374.
Many of these scams start with false adverts on search engines or social media. Victims often click on a link taking them to a website and believe they are dealing with a legitimate company. However, it is all too easy for scammers to impersonate genuine firms online. Some fraudsters even lurk on real accommodation listing sites, before convincing victims to transfer cash directly rather than through the official platform.
With many consumers now rushing to book holidays as demand returns to pre-pandemic levels, Lloyds Bank is urging people to be on the lookout for potential scams.
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Now that most pandemic restrictions have come to an end, many of us will be looking forward to a more traditional summer holiday this year. But with demand soaring and prices rising fast, would-be holidaymakers can’t afford to let their guard down when hunting for the best deals.
“Scammers are ready to cash in on any last minute surge in bookings, so it’s vital that consumers know how to stay safe. Book directly with trusted sites or travel agents, avoid following links on social media, and always pay by card for the greatest protection. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”
Top tips to avoid holiday scams this summer:
Great deals don’t find you: Fraudsters put adverts for fake holidays on social media and the internet. They can also send an offer by email or text pretending to be from a real company. Often, a deal will look much cheaper than those you can find elsewhere.
Make sure it’s genuine: Book a holiday with a company that is ABTA or ATOL protected. Take your time to make sure an offer is genuine before you choose to buy. Look for reviews from different customers and find a company that has lots of good reviews rather than bad ones or no reviews at all.
Protect how you pay: The safest way to pay for a holiday is to use your debit or credit card. If a site or company wants you to pay another way, such as direct to a bank account or by wire transfer, it could be a scam. If you pay this way and things go wrong, you may not get your money back.