Trading Standards Scotland warns holidaymakers to be wary of booking scams this summer
With international travel restrictions still in place, many Scots will look to book getaways within the UK this summer, following the reopening of tourist accommodation and relaxation of travel restrictions across Scotland on 26th April.
However, Trading Standards Scotland is warning holidaymakers to be wary of scams after a large number of consumer issues with holiday bookings were reported in 2020.
These included fake accommodation listings on social media, cold calls and unsolicited emails offering holiday deals, scam websites and fake reviews on popular travel websites.
Last summer, holidaymakers were left in tears after paying hundreds of pounds in cash for caravan breaks advertised on social media which turned out to be fake. When they arrived at the holiday park, they discovered that the accommodation was not owned by the person who had advertised it and had to pay another £500 to book a last-minute break at the park.
Julie McCarron, Head of Intelligence & Coordination at Trading Standards Scotland, said:
“Demand for popular Scottish destinations is likely to be high, particularly during the summer months, and scammers may look to take advantage of this by creating fake social media accounts and websites to advertise accommodation that does not exist or that has already been booked.
“We would like to remind consumers to be wary of bargain getaways advertised on on social media or in unsolicited emails. Links in these adverts could lead to copycat websites which look similar to genuine booking websites, with similar URLs.
“Always contact the holiday provider via their official website or publicly listed phone number to check that the accommodation is legitimately available at the price quoted and for the required dates.”
Top Tips to Avoid a #Scamcation
- Check that the holiday exists
Do plenty of research before booking a holiday online. Where possible, book holidays and accommodation directly with the provider or through a reputable agent. Avoid booking through adverts on social media platforms or in unsolicited emails.
If you are unfamiliar with a company, check that they are a member of a recognised trade association such as ABTA or that they have been recognised by a national tourism organisation such as Visit Scotland.
- Protect Yourself
Where possible, pay for holidays using a credit or debit card rather than via bank transfer – this will offer you more protection if you are a victim of fraud or if something goes wrong. Be suspicious if a provider will only give you the option to pay by cash or bank transfer.
Before making any payments, check the terms and conditions of the booking and the cancellation policy. Accommodation providers and holiday companies should have clear information about what to do if you need to change or cancel your booking due to Covid-19.
- Check Reviews
Scammers often post fake reviews to make their websites or holiday adverts appear legitimate. Don’t rely on reviews from one site alone – look at different review sites and look up the company or accommodation provider on a search engine to see what others have said about them.
Holiday booking scams should be reported to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website: www.consumeradvice.scot. If you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101.
Find out more at www.tsscot.co.uk/holiday-scams.