Don’t get caught out by summer scams….

Don’t get caught out by summer scams

The summer months are a busy time for fraudsters and con artists keen to trick you out of your hard-earned cash. Stay one step ahead of them by keeping an eye out for these common summer scams…

Dodgy online holidays

Thousands of Britons were taken in by fake travel websites last year. On average, they lost £3,000 each. Reported scams included properties fraudulently listed on home letting websites such as Airbnb and turning out to be double booked or simply do not exist.

Others involved people being tricked into booking flights on fake airline ticket websites offering “cheap” fares, or paying for holidays that turned out to be non-existent or nothing like the description.

To avoid being taken in you should:

*Book directly with reputable travel companies, most of which are members of a trade body such as ABTA or the Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL).

*Check the terms and conditions before booking.

*Where possible, pay by credit card so that you are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which states that credit card providers are jointly and severally liable when things go wrong (as long as the goods are worth at least £100).

Summer event scams

There are two main types of scams involving summer events.

The first is data mining fraud, which involves criminals trying to access your details by encouraging you to join an event guest list, often on a social media website such as Facebook.

The second is ticketing fraud, which is where you are sold either fake tickets for real events or tricked into paying to attend non-existent events.

Anyone hoping to attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer should be particularly wary of this second type of fraud, as there have been reports of lots of fake tickets being touted via dodgy emails and websites.

To avoid being taken in you should:

*Check up on websites and pages with the event organiser, promoter or venue before buying your tickets or adding your name to the list.

*Look on online forums to see if other people have had a bad experience with the event organiser or ticket seller.

*Pay by credit card where possible.

Timeshare and holiday club fraud

Brits abroad are often targeted by conmen trying to lure them into dodgy timeshare and holiday club schemes.

Marketed as great investment opportunities, schemes of this kind often come with the promise of a “free” holiday.

In reality, however, timeshares can prove disappointing and almost impossible to sell on, while holiday clubs are often unable to beat rival deals, and charge annual fees even if you do not use them.

To avoid being taken in you should:

*Be very wary of holiday club reps or timeshare salesmen who approach you in the street.

*Read the small print before signing anything and ask for written details of your cancellation rights.

*Always get a lawyer to look over timeshare contracts, whether for sale or resale.

*Treat anyone who claims to be able to sell your timeshare on as a potential fraudster.

Petty theft

Local thieves and conmen often see tourists as easy targets. So it pays to be on your guard against their tricks.

Common scams to be aware of while you are away this summer include dodgy taxi drivers charging the wrong meter rate or giving change in counterfeit notes, and thieves trying to get you drunk so they can steal your cash.

To avoid being taken in you should:

*Only take licensed taxis with visible registration numbers.

*Keep any cash in an inside pocket or security belt.

*Be wary of over-friendly strangers in bars or on the street.

Travelling with money

If you are travelling with large sums of money then here are some tips for you –

Travellers cheques are pretty outdated now, but there are prepaid cards that are more secure than travelling with cash and can be cancelled and replaced if they are lost or stolen. You load them before you go then just use them as you would a debit card to spend or withdraw cash as you wish. FairFX, Travelex and Post Office are well-known prepaid card providers.

If you are taking cash, it also makes sense to split it into several different locations (leave some in the safe rather than carrying it with you) and to check you do not have more on you than you could claim back on your travel insurance – usually about £250 – should something go wrong.

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