4 Scams to Look Out For on Travel Booking Platforms
There are few activities in life that are more exciting than researching and booking your next holiday. From browsing through various destination guides to finding the right flight times and comparing hotel rooms, organising your next big trip is the perfect preparation to get you in the mood for travelling to new locations.
Unfortunately, the internet is home to more and more people with fewer and fewer morals these days. That means that unscrupulous cyber criminals and con artists can trick you into handing over your sensitive data and take you for all you’re worth. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, keep an eye out for these common scams on travel booking platforms and steer well clear as soon as any alarm bells start ringing.
Change of website
If you source a deal on one website and make a reservation (without having paid), the owner of the property (or someone claiming to be them) could contact you to request use of another site for payment. Even if this is a reputable site that you’ve heard of or used before, you should not comply with their demands. That’s because sophisticated travel scams can replicate the exact look and layout of a legitimate site, but it’s actually a fraudulent website. Then, once you enter your bank details or credit card number into their portal, they can effectively charge you whatever sum they like and you’ll have no recourse to reclaim the money.
Fake accommodation listings
With Airbnb and other similar room rental sites so popular today, it’s easier than ever to find cheap accommodation while you’re away. Unfortunately, due to fairly easy or non-existing screening processes of property owners on platforms, it’s also easier than ever for scam artists to place fake ads about properties that don’t belong to them or perhaps don’t even exist at all. When browsing where to stay, make sure the listing platform of your choice has a proper owner validation of vacation rental listings in place. This means property owners and their identity should be officially verified by the platform before they can create listings and offer accommodation.
These aren’t actually found on the travel booking platform itself, but people can become particularly vulnerable to them immediately after browsing a holiday or booking one. Criminals will send phishing emails to unsuspecting victims pretending to be from the booking portal. In it, they will ask for reconfirmation of credit card details, allege that payment didn’t go through or direct the user to another site to purchase additional extras, such as excursions or taxis. Never click through emails from a sender you don’t recognise or trust.
Bait-and-switch airline deals
One of the most common swindles on online airline sites usually operate via paid-for advertisements on search engines and pop-up ads. These purport to offer you flights for far cheaper prices than the airlines or major travel agents… but what they omit is the fees, taxes and other costs which are part and parcel of any reservation. As such, it might appear that you’re saving a packet by using a less reputable site, but once you’ve input your credit card details and parted with your cash, the extra charges will finally reveal themselves.
Don’t get stung by con artists and hackers when booking a holiday online – following these simple tips will help to keep you (and your bank account) safe when planning your next trip away.