Guarding Against Fraud and Scams
Fraudsters are continually looking for ways to unwittingly steal from you in one way or another. Key is to be one step ahead. You can do this by keeping up to date on the latest activities, then you stand a better chance of not becoming a victim.
Below is a list of scams you can avoid when going on holiday and in everyday life. Take the time to read through these items as you may be able to avoid the unthinkable happening to yourself. If you are unsure if something is real or not, always best to seek advice.
If you become a victim of a scam or fraud, report it immediately to Action Fraud 0330-123-2040 and they will take the case forward. The Action Fraud website is where we have resourced some of the information listed below and is a great hub of information to ensure you don't fall victim to fraud.
Holiday Home Rental Fraud
Holiday home rental fraud has become so common in recent years. This is largely because there are so many fake holiday home listings on numerous advertising websites.
Normally you don't know that you have become a victim of fraud until its too late. You book your holiday home, pay the fee and then go on holiday. You arrive at an address that does not exist or a property not owned by the people that took your money.
- Only book a property that is registered with Veraccom
- You can research on this site to find the perfect holiday home
- If your researching other holiday rental websites, look for the veraccom Trust Badge and and the property identity and check on this site it is registered, two minutes is all it takes
- If you like the look of a property and its not registered with Veraccom you can ask the owner of the property to sign up with us and we can register them quite quickly
When you go on holiday regardless of destination and you know you need to get a transfer/taxi from the airport/train station, do your home work. Find out prior to travelling which companies are registered and reputable and:
- Make sure the meter is working and has been set to zero. If you dont notice, you may end up paying extra
- Make sure you agree the price of the journey before setting off including any surcharges etc. otherwise you could be out of pocket, especially if the taxi decides to take you a tour of the city
- Check out the route so you don't end up getting taken the long way round as this could be very costly
Where ever you go on holiday there are many places that sell the local currency in regulated and unregulated outlets. Things to keep your eye on are:
- Try and always use a regulated currency exchange bureau, you have less chance of being ripped off
- Check that the commission rate is standard and not more than 4/5%
- Shop about if you have a large amount of money to change to get the best rate otherwise you could be paying a lot more
- Don't allow yourself to be distracted during the transaction and always recount each note in front of the person who serves you, it could cost you dearly if you dont. Its not uncommon for mistakes to be made, especially if the seller knows your not watching.
Going somewhere new on holiday brings out the adventurist side in many people. Location tours and excursions are normally the best way to find out about a region or country you are visiting.
- Book tours and excursions with reputable companies and where possible do a bit of research in advance of travelling somewhere new, as this can often save you a lot of time and money.
- If you are booking online, make sure the company has been trading for a period of time and has the credentials of a good tour firm.
- Check the local tourism office as they may well have good deals with local tour companies, and it is more likely the tourism office will have vetted them.
- But beware of the unlicensed touts on the street who are here today but gone tomorrow. But if you do make a booking with a street tour tout, do not give out your payment card details.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud has become commonplace in the modern day, but we never think it will happen to us. Be extra careful when using your credit card to make payments or to withdraw money from an atm, whether its home or away!
- When you receive a new card from your issuer, its best to cut up your old card right away and destroy any details containing PIN numbers.
- When making payments, be sure that the company you are sharing your credit card details with is not bogus.
- It's worthwhile to check your balance when you make payments to ensure you have not been overcharged for goods or that a scam has taken place.
- Always check your statements and challenge any payments you are not sure of with your card provider.
- If you think a purchase is too good to be true, it probably is, best save your time, money and a whole lot of grief by not making the transaction.
- Do not give your PIN number out to anyone and remember, your bank or the police will never call to ask for these details, so do not ever reveal them.
Buying tickets for a plane journey, a tour, excursion or even a concert should be done through respective the originating company or licenced agents to ensure you don't get ripped off.
Levels of fraud have never been higher than they are today and in this sector, it's hard to detect a good purchase from a bad one. Fraudsters have become so sophisticated with modern copy technology making it very hard to detect phoney tickets from the real deal.
However, it's safe to say, that for most they will never receive the promised tickets that in some cases cost £000s if not £0,000s of pounds. At most, you will receive a confirmation email from the scammer, which will look real but holds no substance and will go completely undetected once you start to investigate.
Hotel/B&B/Guest House Booking Fraud
Be very careful to check when booking a hotel, bed and breakfast or guest house that the site and the property are legitimate.
There has been a significant increase in bogus hotel and booking websites set up that look like they are legitimate. They accept your booking and payments and that's the last you hear of them.
Check they exist through Veraccom. If we don't have the accommodation you are looking for, ask the owner to join as a member of Veraccom.
Car Hire Scams
Booking car hire is a fairly simple process and with so much competition it's often cheaper to book car hire than pay for local transfers from ports to destinations - or is it?
There are a number of things to remember when booking car hire:
- Check the fuel policy before booking on the hire or broker's site. Often it's better to book on a full to full basis - You take the car out full of fuel and you bring it back full. It's not uncommon for hire companies to charge for the fuel and refund this back when the car is returned full. This way you get to set the price of the fuel. Beware, if you don't bring the car back full, you will be charged the cost to fill the tank and a handling surcharge. The other option is Full to Empty. You pay for a full tank at the beginning of the hire (on the hire companies fuel rate, which might be a lot higher than the cost at a petrol station) and bring the car back empty. You will have to work out if you will use a full tank for this to be of value.
- Booking car hire only becomes a headache once you go to collect the car. This is where you get bombarded with all the reasons to buy all the local insurances offered by the car hire company. But you don't have to buy them as there are other cost-effective options! So, be prepared before you book online. Most car hire bookings come with collision damage waiver, theft waiver and liability insurance but all normally have hefty excesses. If you don't book with excess cover (which can normally cost a few extra pounds per day when your booking online) included, take the car out on to the road and have an accident you will have the excess to pay. If you regularly hire cars, you can buy an annual policy which covers all your excesses. If you do buy an annual policy, make sure it has breakdown towing cover, as this is not always included in the car hire agreement. The car hire companies insurances can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of your booking if you decide to take them, as this is their way of making money.
The decision is yours at the end of the day!