It’s a tale as old as time; unscrupulous opportunists will take advantage of unsuspecting individuals whenever, wherever and however. Booking travel and accommodation online for the upcoming Easter holiday period is exactly such an opportunity.
In fact, the ever increasing ease of booking online has made it even easier for fraudsters to take advantage of those looking to secure their holiday arrangements in time
“Fraudsters exploit potential holiday makers 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,” says Sahil Mungar of FNB Digital Bannking, “This further gives scammers an opportunity to request ID copies and bank details of their victims, which are then used for identity theft.”
According to Mungar we become especially vulnerable to these crimes closer to busy holiday periods. The more desperate you are to secure holiday accommodation, the more likely you are to overlook scams only to receive a nasty shock when you reach your destination.
#1: Get a head-start on booking and confirming your holiday plans
Always try and book accommodation three months in advance or longer to avoid disappointments. This will help you to qualify for discounts and gives you enough time to do the necessary background and security checks.
#2: Google is your friend
If you’re worried about a property or suspect that the photographs are fake, or that the property is being misrepresented, simply look it up online. Look for reviews from other travelers and Google Maps to ensure that the place exists and is as advertised.
#3: Use online holiday resources
#4: Make sure you call and receive an answer
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.
#5: Protect your money
Avoid depositing or transferring money to an individual’s bank account or sending your personal details to their private email address. Rather pay online on the accommodation’s actual website or in person at the venue.
#6: Be alert
Lookout for suspicious behaviour, take notice of bad grammar in emails, foreign phone numbers, or if the owner or property manager is not responding to emails. These can all be warning signs.
#7 In-person verification wins first prize
If you have friends and family that stay close to the place, ask them to go and verify if it is legitimate.
The bottom-line is, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Use reputable website, book in advance, and don’t respond to unsolicited e-mails and social media advertisements without ensuring that the sources are legitimate.