The ACCC is warning travellers to beware of holiday scams when looking to score a cheap deal on their winter getaway.
“While you are making holiday plans, scammers are plotting to steal your hard-earned dollars with fake rental listings, fraudulent holiday vouchers and by hacking into travel websites. Already this year, the ACCC has received over 100 travel-related scam complaints with more than $250,000 reported lost,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Scammers are setting up fake online listings for rental properties to try and lure unsuspecting consumers into parting with their money. With these scams you pay for your accommodation but the property either does not exist or, if it is real, the owner knows nothing about your booking.
Scammers are also reportedly hacking into popular holiday rental or travel websites to access email inquiries sent by consumers. The scammer then assumes the identity of the property owner and steers customers into making bogus bookings.
“Our most commonly reported travel scam comes from holidaymakers finding that discount accommodation vouchers they paid for don't arrive, are fakes or simply can't be used as promised,” Ms Rickard said.
Claire* received an email offering vouchers for a heavily discounted luxury resort in Bali. She had been making inquiries on travel websites for a deal but this offer of 10 nights in a five star Kuta resort for $1200 was by far the cheapest. She paid for the voucher via international funds transfer and booked her flights. When Claire arrived in Kuta, the hotel had no knowledge of the voucher or her payment. Claire had been scammed.
“Follow these simple steps to ensure that your dream holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare.”
“Before booking your holiday, do your homework by contacting the company directly using details that you have sourced independently through the phone book or an online search. Often scammers have no arrangements with the accommodation providers to offer discount stays,” Ms Rickard warned.
“Don’t trust the legitimacy of an ad just because it appears in a reputable newspaper or online classifieds website as scammers often use these. If you receive an email out of the blue from a stranger offering a great holiday deal, delete it and do not click on any links or open attachments.”
“Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a good firewall. If you think you have provided your financial details or sent money to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity