Action Fraud recently announced that it received 1907 reports of holiday and travel-related fraud across the 2021-2021 financial year, with total losses for victims over the last 12 months standing at a staggering £2.2 million. This equates to an average loss of £1242 per victim. Whilst this is a drop of over 70% versus the previous year, don’t be fooled that the fraudsters are giving up! Far from it. Given the impact of the COVID pandemic on travel, a fall in travel-related fraud in the last 12 months isn’t surprising. For perspective, overseas visits by UK residents fell by 74% in 2020 versus 2019, from 93.2 million visits to just 23.8 million according to the Office for National Statistics, taking us back to the levels of travel seen in 1985.
There are so many horror stories out there these days …. daytime TV seems full of stories of holidays gone wrong, accommodation not up to scratch or in some cases, not even there at all. In 2020, 56% of travel-related fraud was targeting unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets whilst 29% was directed at those booking accommodation. In these cases, fraudsters are often setting up fake websites or posting fake adverts on websites and on social media.
And don’t think this crime is only going to affect the elderly and vulnerable. Far from it. 73% of victims were aged between 19 and 50 years old. Criminals are using more and more sophisticated techniques to convince us to part with our money so it’s important you know what to look out for. When booking online, make sure you’re using a trusted site, and check the website URL to make sure it hasn’t been altered. And, if you’re entering your credit card details online, make sure that the site has a security certificate (check for the padlock symbol and https://).
But I also think it’s important to get these tales of holiday woe in perspective. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly and are precisely what they should be…. times to spend with friends and loved ones in a relaxing, enjoyable environment, a true break from day to day life.
So is it still safe to book a holiday direct with an owner? The simple answer is yes. Of course it is…. as long as sensible precautions are taken and common sense used. Do your research before parting with any money and when you do, keep records of payments and receipts. Always look for reviews, pay using a credit card and avoid wiring funds by direct bank transfer. This way there’s more chance of getting your money back should something go wrong.
Bookings For You are a holiday rental company that prides itself in working with some of the best holiday home owners in Italy and France. Not only do we make decisions about whether a villa should be added to our portfolio based on the property itself but we are also influenced by the owners.
That said, booking with a travel company can potentially give some upsides that booking direct with an owner doesn’t. With all the best will in the world, sometimes something can go wrong… a villa can spring a leak or the heating can break down. Yes, these things are unlikely but just as a boiler can break down in your own home, the same can happen in a holiday home. If you have booked direct with the owner, the likelihood is that they don’t have alternatives to move you to if something does go wrong. In contrast, a holiday company are more likely to have a number of other comparable properties that you can switch in thereby allowing you to continue your holiday relatively smoothly.
But remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Trust your gut instincts and if something doesn’t feel right, make sure you do further checks before going ahead.