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Booking your Holiday Online? Ensure you Have a Real Holiday in your Hands

Friday, 21 March 2014
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Ensure you use a safe and reliable travel website if you are booking your holiday online, to prevent being scammed.

Anna was looking forward to this trip of leisure. She had booked her tickets through a travel website that offered cheap fare. However; a rude shock awaited her at the airport on the day of the trip. The airlines she was supposed to travel with informed that there was no booking in her name and that her flight tickets were fake.

Anna, as numerous others, was a victim of online travel booking frauds.

And Its not Just Air Tickets

Online travel booking frauds are not limited to fake air tickets alone. You could be a target if you are booking holiday packages or looking to rent self-service accommodations on your travel. Fraudsters can also dupe you in the guise of legitimate visa agencies. An email informing you that you have won a surprise holiday package or a travel website promising low fares are popular ways fraudsters use to target victims.

Online Travel Booking is Still Worth It

provided you take some key precautions. You may not want to stay away from benefits such as the range of travel options, quick and convenient booking and affordable deals, available online.

Explore travel choices available online without fear by:

  • Using a Legitimate Travel Website: Ask for referrals from your close circle on travel websites. Check if the physical location of the agency is traceable on online map services such as Google Maps, and available in web searches.

    Find out if the agency is a member of any reputed travel association to ascertain its legitimacy. Check online reviews on the agency. Contact the agency and ask for customer references and crosscheck them firsthand.

  • Ensuring that the Travel Website is Secure: If you are going to make payments through the website, ensure that it is designed to offer you maximum protection.

    A padlock (a closed lock symbol), which is usually present on the left hand side in the address bar or to the bottom right of the web page, is one way of gauging the security of a website. Presence of ÔÇ£https://ÔÇØ in the websiteÔÇÖs URL is another way to ensure security (Related: 7 Habits to Keep your Online Identity Intact).

    If you are applying for your visa online, verify with the countryÔÇÖs embassy if the website you are using is legitimate.

  • Being Cautious about Unsolicited Travel Offers: Be suspicious of unsolicited emails with offers of cheap holiday packages, surprise lottery travel trips and other such. Avoid sending financial information in reply to such emails if asked to do so.
  • Reading their Terms and Conditions: Find out if there are upfront fees or a deposit involved. Check how they want you to pay. Stay away if they use untraceable payment options such as mailing the amount by cheque.

    Go through the entire terms and conditions yourself or seek an expert opinion (e.g. that of a legal advisor).

  • Maintaining a Backup: Take printouts of all online transaction receipts with the agency. Keep an eye on your bank or credit card statements, in case you are using any of these for payments, for any suspicious activity.

We Would Like to Hear from You

Have you been a victim of online travel frauds? What do you think can be done to avoid being victimised?

References

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/jul/06/holiday-internet-booking-scams

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/sites/default/files/3395%20Holiday%20Fraud_v4.pdf

http://blog.guestcaye.com/blog/lauren-showen/online-travel-booking-scam-why-you-should-book-belize-hotels-direct

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-advice/8836893/Travel-advice-holiday-villa-fraud.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/9446395/Warning-over-online-holiday-fraud.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/0/22728224

Last modified on Monday, 16 February 2015 11:49