Holiday Scams

9 August 2023

3 min read

It's holiday season, and the sales have started. But anyone could be the victim of a holiday scam. Criminals are experts at grabbing your attention and gaining your trust. Here are some things to look out for when booking and managing your holidays.

Fake holiday websites

Some fake holiday websites look exactly like known and trusted websites. Avoid clicking on adverts and try finding the company’s official website by searching online instead, and always check the web address carefully.

Other fake websites may be advertising unknown companies. It’s best to stick to reputable companies if you can and research any you don’t recognise. Be aware that fake websites can easily include fake reviews, so always check independent review websites such as TripAdvisor or Trustpilot. You can also:

Fake listings on genuine websites

Scammers know you may let your guard down when browsing holiday booking websites you know and trust, such as AirBnb and These websites work hard to keep their listings free from fraud. But some fake listings do get through.

Scammers know that you may want to support smaller businesses. Some may pose as independent hosts and claim that they can offer you a discount if you pay by bank transfer because this will help them avoid the website’s fees.

Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, and of hosts who push you to contact them outside of the website or ask you to pay by bank transfer.

Fake cancellations and refunds

Scammers know that not everything goes to plan with trips away. And when things do go wrong, it’s stressful to deal with.

Some scammers take advantage of this by sending messages saying that part or all of your trip has been cancelled. Then they offer to help make new arrangements for you, or to get you a refund. They’ll ask for your bank details, and may even ask you to pay an administration fee by bank transfer.

Always check carefully who the message has come from. If in doubt, try using the contact details on their official website, or try contacting the holiday booking website if you booked it through one.

Hacked emails and messages

Unfortunately, scammers’ techniques are becoming more sophisticated. Some are even able to access genuine companies’ emails, or their accounts on holiday booking websites.

Scammers are hoping that you’ll assume messages which come from the correct email address or correct account on a website must be genuine, and that you’ll follow their instructions without thinking it through as thoroughly as you might have in another situation.

Don’t let yourself be rushed by anyone contacting you. And the clearest indication that it’s a scam will be if they ask you to pay something by bank transfer.

Tyrell’s story

Tyrell saw an advert on social media for a last minute getaway at a fantastic price. He really liked the pictures of the accommodation and made contact with the seller. Tyrell selected dates for his stay, and when the seller requested payment via bank transfer, he paid in full.

Several weeks later, Tyrell contacted the seller to ask how he could enter the property. But he didn’t receive a response. He soon realised he’d fallen for a scam when he saw that the seller was no longer on social media and there was a totally different property at that address.

The common thread: paying by bank transfer

Whatever technique a scammer may use to try to convince you that their holidays are genuine, they’ll usually ask you to pay them by bank transfer. Most genuine companies wouldn’t do this.

Our tips to stay safe are:

  • Pay by debit or credit card if possible – these payments methods give you better legal protections than bank transfers
  • Always use the internal payment system when using holiday booking websites
  • Be particularly cautious of a company or individual suddenly contacting you with new bank details and requesting a bank transfer.

Let us know if you’ve been a victim of a scam

Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed – you’re not alone. Thousands of people are victims of scams every year. We want to help, so please contact us as soon as possible

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