How to avoid online travel scams this Easter

With the upcoming Easter Holidays in sight, many travellers may be desperate to secure a holiday experience as soon as possible. With that comes the risk of fraudsters who target last-minute travel and accommodation bookers.

Sahil Mungar, FNB Digital Banking highlights that travellers who haven’t finalised their travel plans are more likely to not only pay a premium, but could also fall victim to some online scams. It is easier to miss the warning signs of possible scams and fall victim of fraud when pressured to secure your holiday travel and accommodation,

“Fraudsters exploit potential holidaymakers by falsely advertising holiday accommodation or timeshares on the internet and social media. Consumers are then deceived to pay upfront in order to secure their bookings. This further gives scammers an opportunity to request ID copies and bank details of their victims, which are then used for identity theft,” explains Mungar.

Along with being extra cautious then making bookings online, here are a few tips from Mungar to minimise your risk:

  • Ensure you book your accommodation at least three months prior to your travel date so as to avoid disappointments, qualify for discounts and conduct the necessary background and security checks.
  • If you’re worried about a property or suspect that the photographs are fake, simply use search engines like Google to look up the property yourself.  Look for reviews from other travelers and Google Maps to ensure that the place exists.
  • Use travel booking and review sites such as tripadvisor.com or booking.com to check reviews and to book accommodation securely.
  • Call directly to publically advertised phone numbers to confirm the booking availability. Even if you get called, rather hang up and call back on the official number.
  • Rather pay online on the accommodation’s actual website or in person at the venue rather than depositing or transferring money to an individual’s bank account or sending your personal details to their private email address.
  • Take note of the warning signs such as bad grammar in emails, foreign phone numbers, or if the owner or property manager are delayed in responding to emails, or don’t respond at all
  • Ask family or friends that may reside close the supposed accommodation to check it is indeed legitimate.

“To avoid scams, consider checking out properties from reputable travel websites and agents in advance and never respond to online and social media adverts without verifying that the sources are legitimate,” concludes Mungar.

-FNB

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