Recent research from Barclays UK suggests that sun-deprived Brits on a mission to beat the January blues are at risk of losing thousands to villa scams and therefore Islanders may also be at risk. Data revealed that more than one in three reported villa scams results in losses between £1000 and £5000, with nearly three-quarters saving on average £1,274 throughout the year for their holiday.
To help holidaymakers stay safe this January, Barclays is issuing a new warning against the dangers of villa scams – where criminals hijack the details of overseas villas (or use fake details) to dupe unsuspecting tourists.
Whether it’s arranging a romantic getaway through a fake travel agent over the phone or a booking for your dream villa online which turns out to be a non-existent nightmare, sun-seekers are set to be in for more than they bargained for, with unlucky 30-44 year olds making up more than a third of those affected.
Research suggests that consumers need to take greater care when booking accommodation online to help prevent them from losing their holiday fund. One in seven admitted they would still book their dream holiday accommodation despite knowing there is a risk of being scammed, and a quarter would be prepared to take the risk just in hope of bagging a summer bargain.
Barclays has identified that there are several warning signs people are ignoring when booking their holiday. Research shows that 43 per cent would not hear alarm bells if they were asked to pay for a holiday via bank transfer, and less than half would check their booking is with a member of a trade body or consumer protection scheme, leaving them susceptible to less protected companies.
In addition, more than half would not be put off booking a holiday, even if it seemed ‘too good to be true’.
Carol Bisson, head of local markets for Barclays in Jersey, said:“Trying to escape those January blues may seem like an appealing prospect, but fraudsters are preparing to take advantage of sun-seekers at this time of year. We must all be aware of the risks and make sure we are carrying out proper safety checks to ensure our online security and enjoy a scam-free holiday.”
Barclays top tips for staying safe while booking holidays this January:
- Is the offer too good to be true?
Do your research. If a villa is advertised at half the going rate and has great availability in peak season when everywhere else is full, this should tell you something. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
- Do an internet search on the location
If the villa in question appears to be advertised by other companies under another name, this may also be a warning sign. Be sure to do thorough research before making any booking
- Are they asking you to pay by transfer?
Scammers love bank transfers. The money goes straight from your account to theirs and then they take it straight out and it disappears. By the time you realise that something is wrong, they are long gone
- Look for companies that have a real location and real phone numbers
Be suspicious of businesses that will only communicate via email and mobile phones. It’s worth checking the address or even looking at the location through an online street map. Make sure you check that the travel agent and website is certified, and that your payment is going to the right people
- Before you commit to anything, stop and take time to think
If it is a legitimate company, five minutes isn’t going to make any difference – and it could save you thousands of pounds and untold heartache.
For more details on how to stay safe, visit www.barclays.co.uk/security