Safe Travels: Booking Safely Online
The internet is your oyster when it comes to booking accommodation and package holidays online, whether in your own country or abroad. Great deals in places you've always dreamt of suddenly become an affordable reality. Or have they??
Just in case you've missed all the recent reports, did you know, holiday booking fraud has increased by as much as 425% in the last few years, a statistic set to rise. In 2017 over 5,000 cases of booking fraud were reported in the UK alone, amounting to a staggering £6.7 million and it's thought this figure to be much higher, as not all cases are reported.
So, before you enter your credit/debit card details and hit the "Book Now" button, check out the following top tips, that may save you a lot of money, pain and anguish when thinking of booking that fantastic private holiday rental or those too good to be true, super cheap flight tickets or hotel deal.
Your Top Tips - Booking holiday accommodation safely online
1. Always make sure the accommodation has been verified by an independent and don't just take the owners word for it, as the owner might not be all they say they are! For your protection, if the accommodation you are interested in booking for your next holiday is not a member of Veraccom, you can contact us, and we will invite the owner to become a member before you make a booking. This guarantees that we have verified the identity of the owner; we have verified the ownership and the existence of the property by having visited and checked the accommodation. (If you are an owner and are interested in joining Veraccom, drop us a message at email@example.com)
2. Use the Veraccom website search function and choose with confidence one of our member's properties that we have verified. As we are a new organisation, our list of properties is continually increasing. Sign up for our newsletter right at the bottom of this page to hear about all the new properties as they are added.
3. Be very careful when booking your holiday accommodation, even with the most prominent, well-established online website platforms. The majority of the online platforms do not verify the ownership and existence of the property/business that you could be about to book, hence why there have been so many fake accommodation listings on the internet!
4. TOP TIP - Ensure you have adequate travel insurance at all times when travelling abroad. Check the policy you choose offers adequate coverage for the location your travelling to, for the age range of you and your family/party and for the type of holiday you have chosen. Always read the small print and know that you are covered for all eventualities including fraudulent bookings made online. Globelink International has a wide range of travel insurance products to suit all budgets and types of travel.
5. For your protection, before entering your details on to any website, check the website address starts with “shttp or https” and has a secure padlock icon in the address bar. If none of these features exists, we would advise you not to use the website as it is most likely to be less trustworthy or indeed a fake!
6. When booking holiday accommodation, check how long the property and the owner have been advertising. This won't act as a substitution for verification but may offer some kind of judgement. (You can contact us if you are unsure and we can invite the property owner to become a member)
7. Check online for previous guest experiences and reviews on that verified property you are interested in. Sometimes you may need to read between the lines and make your own decisions based on what you see and feel is comfortable.
8. Avoid paying the owner directly into their bank account and be cautious if you are asked to pay the full amount of the holiday rental upfront unless it’s a last minute booking. Read the Terms and conditions of booking and ensure you understand the cancellation policy timelines. If you don't understand the terms or the terminology, don't be afraid to ask questions.
9. When making a booking, pay with a Credit card as they often they carry a level of protection/insurance on all purchases made. Some Debit cards have protection also. But, in both cases, check with your card issuer before you book if you are unsure.
10. Always check your online debit/credit card statement after you have made your booking deposit or full payment and ensure that only the agreed amount of money is taken from your card account.
11. Don’t be too quick to book a holiday rental that looks too cheap to be true, because quite often that is the case and disappointment usually follows. We all want to see the good in everyone we do business. However, Veraccom strongly advises, always do your due diligence and don’t leave things to chance. Don't be lured into cheap deals, as there are a lot of unscrupulous people around.
12. Check out the location of the property to ensure that it is where it is meant to be. You don't want to arrive to find it's on the side of a cliff or worse, it does not exist.
13. If you are booking flights, package holidays or hotels, always make sure you use a reputable well-established company and make sure they are members of a governing body. For example, in the UK this would be ABTA, ATOL, IATA.
14. Don’t be fooled into buying from touts or bogus unknown companies, as in most cases this will end in disaster and your holiday insurance will not cover you in situations where you have not booked through regulated agents.
Finally, if you have been affected by holiday booking fraud, we would love to hear your story and with your permission, share it with our readers on our website. It's only by sharing our experiences can we help each other. Email us at - firstname.lastname@example.org
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This article is available to serve as guidance only.