Shocking new research from Action Fraud has revealed that 151 airline ticket frauds have taken place since January. How the scam works is that fraudulent operators claiming to be official agents buy the tickets on behalf of consumers before cancelling them once the airline has issued the tickets. There have also been cases of non-existent holidays being sold to unsuspecting online bargain hunters.
In these tough times we’re all looking for a bargain wherever we can get one, and holidays are no exception. Fraudsters are taking advantage of this and exploiting hard-up consumers looking for a cheap getaway. The problem is that we’re so used to buying goods and services online that we often take it for granted that the merchant is trustworthy. By exercising a bit of caution (and dare we say cynicism), you can ensure you never get scammed. Action Fraud have these nuggets of advice:
- Notice if the company has recently been set up or has recently changed hands – this could be another sign of fraud – especially if they’re also offering unfeasibly low prices.
- If an advert refers to membership of a trade body or consumer protection scheme such as ABTA, make sure the membership’s genuine.
- Beware of traders who encourage you to pay in cash, by not accepting credit card payments or by charging high credit card fees.
Websites such as 192.com allow you to check a holiday company’s business address, read their credit report and check their account filing history. With a bit of detective work you could save yourself a lot of heartache (not to mention money!). So if you’re heading to sunnier climes this summer (such as the North Pole), make sure you check the provider before you book your flights.