Staycationers warned about holiday home scams

Fraudsters are using fake accommodation websites to trick those looking for a holiday

Websites which look almost identical to legitimate accommodation websites have been set up for fraud. Photograph: iStock

Websites which look almost identical to legitimate accommodation websites have been set up for fraud. Photograph: iStock

 

A warning has been issued that fraudsters are taking advantage of an increased demand for staycations due to the pandemic by setting up false websites to scam holidaymakers.

Copycat websites, which look almost identical to legitimate accommodation websites, have been set up to secure bookings and payments from customers.

Holidaymakers have also been warned about the dangers of fake emails and ads on social media offering what appear to be competitive holiday deals, but which are “too good to be true”.

The warning came from FraudSmart, the fraud awareness initiative led by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), which represents the main banks in the State, large lending institutions and An Post.

It said there has been a 112 per cent increase in internet searches for holiday bookings in Ireland during the month of June as people cancel planned foreign holidays during the pandemic.

BPFI head of financial crime and security Keith Gross said: “We are warning consumers to take extra caution when they are booking domestic holidays and are outlining the key advice holidaymakers should follow to avoid getting caught out and risk losing their hard earned cash along with their holiday.

“This include simple checks and tips such as ensuring any website that you use to book a holiday is genuine, never clicking through to a sellers website via an email link or social media advert and never forgetting that if an offer looks too good to be true is usually is.”

Mr Gross said customers should check and recheck websites or web addresses of holiday websites before booking.

He also urged customers to type the URL of the company or seller directly into their browser rather than click through it from an e-mail or social media post which could take you to a fraudulent site.

He cautioned that if a holiday offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Customers should also call the private or self-catering accommodation directly to ensure that it is a real listing, he advised.

“Be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer. Paying by direct bank transfer means your money will be difficult to trace in the event of something going wrong and if it is a scam, it will be very difficult to get your money back,” he added.