Scam Alerts - Holiday Special - 19 June 2017

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Scam Alerts - Holiday Special - 19 June 2017

In this issue:

Holiday booking fraud


With summer holidays fast approaching, individuals are often more exposed to travel booking frauds when looking for late deals.

Fraudsters use fake online adverts, bogus sales calls, emails and text messages, to lure in these potential holiday goers.

The people carrying out this type of fraud will usually request that you pay for your holiday by bank transfer or a Money Transfer Service, as these methods of payment can be difficult to trace and are not refundable.

Behaviours that put you at risk

  • Paying for a holiday, travel, or accommodation via direct bank transfer or a Money Transfer Service
  • Entering your payment details into a webpage that doesn't have the padlock icon (https) in the address bar.
  • Responding to unsolicited calls, emails or texts offering holidays for incredibly low prices.

How to protect yourself:

  • If you’re unfamiliar with the travel company you want to book a holiday with, do some research online to ensure that they are reputable. Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as Abta or ATOL
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails, texts or calls offering holidays at very low prices. And remember, don’t click on any links within these emails and texts, or open any attachments, as they may lead to malicious websites or downloads.
  • Whenever possible, pay for your holiday by credit card as this offers increased protection over other payment methods. Always look for the 'https' and locked padlock icon in the address bar before entering your payment details.

    If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting

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    Copycat websites - European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and passports


    Following the results of the EU referendum, no changes have yet been announced to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) service so you are advised to use your card as before.

    If yours has expired, you can still apply for or renew an EHIC online.

    Trading Standards are advising that it's important that when you apply or renew this or any other document such as a passport online that you ONLY use the official website, both to ensure that your personal data is safe and secure and that you are not charged more for the document or licence than you should be.

    Remember, an EHIC is free – it should not cost you anything to obtain or renew.

    Copycat websites try to look like official websites but charge a premium to handle the application or renewal, with no tangible benefit to the customer. Copycat websites pay advertising fees so that their website is positioned at the top of any Google search. If a website is marked 'Ad' or 'Advertisement', it won't be the official website. 

    Remember, an EHIC is free – it should not cost you anything to obtain or renew.

    If you are applying for any official document or licence, ALWAYS begin your search on the UK Government's own website GOV.UK

    Watch a public information film warning consumers about the problems of copycat websites and advice on how to avoid them.

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    Travelling or transiting the USA? – Remember your ETSA


    Everyone from the UK going to the USA by air or sea, even those just passing through, must fill out an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form in advance. Without one you may be denied boarding or can even be sent straight back home. 

    ESTA is an online system that tells you in advance whether you're eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). All accepted applications have a fee of $14 each ($4 if you're rejected); that's $56 for a family of four. You will also need a chipped passport to apply.

    Be warned, when applying online, watch out for any copycat website demanding a fee for the ESTA. Search the internet for ‘ESTA’ and you’ll discover many that claim to submit an application on your behalf.

    Not only will you be paying money unnecessarily, you can't be certain it'll be a legitimate submission and acceptance, so you may still get turned away when you get to the USA.

    You may also be providing personal information to a fraudster.

    Always use the official ESTA site

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    Be aware of airport parking scams

    airport parking

    Airport valet parking, or meet-and-greet services, by non-established companies are often more trouble than they're worth. Whilst they are cheaper, many holidaymakers have discovered that their cars have clearly not been kept secure while they were on their travels, many being parked on residential streets, in muddy fields or worse.

    You may also find they offer no protection for theft or damage to the car while in their care despite claims made.

    Always use a recognised parking agent. The security you should get through them will give you peace of mind while you're away:

    • Check company websites for address details – as legally companies need to provide these – be wary if these are not given.
    • Consider paying with a credit card to give extra protection if things go wrong.
    • Check for reviews and don’t just rely on testimonials on the site. If you search online for the property or service provider you should be able to find other reviews to ensure credibility. If people have had bad experiences, it’s likely someone will have posted a warning online.
    • Take pictures of all four sides of your car to help avoid any disputes regarding damage to your vehicle when returning from holiday.
    • Make a note of your mileage reading when you drop it off.
    • Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle.

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    Problems with a flight - what are your rights?

    airport delay

    This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales.

    If flights are cancelled or delayed, you've specific and powerful legal rights to £100s/person in compensation.

    Your flight may be delayed or cancelled for a number of reasons, which may include adverse weather conditions, strikes, political or civil unrest and other 'extraordinary circumstances'. You may be downgraded to a class lower than you booked or you may be 'denied boarding', commonly referred to as being 'bumped' from your flight.

    The Civil Aviation (Denied Boarding, Compensation and Assistance) Regulations 2005, which implement EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, set out the circumstances when you are entitled to a refund, compensation and assistance at the airport. These rights apply to passengers flying from an EU airport on any airline or arriving at an EU airport on an EU airline.

    This guide explains what you are entitled to and how much compensation you can claim.

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    Classified ads – beware of non existent caravans


    Whilst the Internet has revolutionised the way we look for and book holidays, the reality is that it is also being exploited by fraudsters.

    Reports have shown that UK caravan stays are being targeted with advertisements for non-existent accommodation posted on sites such as Facebook, Gumtree and Craigslist.

    Everyone likes a bargain but if the cost of the caravan holiday seems to be unrealistically low, alarm bells should ring!

    There have been many instances whereby unsuspecting families have turned up at caravan sites to either find someone else already staying in their promised accommodation or the accommodation does not exist at all.

    As booking holiday accommodation via any private adverts can be risky, we would advise to:

    • Conduct thorough enquiries into the authenticity of the advert.
    • Get the full address of the accommodation and check that it exists – use Google maps or if possible, phone the Site Manager.
    • Look to see if there are 3rd party reviews online.
    • Never agree to pay by Bank Transfer or a Money Transfer Service which are untraceable.

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    For more information on scams, visit:

    How to report scams