Debbie's Villas Advice on Avoiding Scams
With January being a popular time of year to be booking holidays, it’s also the peak period for scammers! The holiday rental market is growing and villas are becoming an attractive option for holidaymakers, but scammers want to turn your dream holiday into a nightmare.
There are a few different ways these fraudsters can scam holidaymakers and we’d like to make customers aware of these risks. New research from Barclays bank has found that more than one in three (37%) people who reported villa scams, lost between £1,000 and £5,000†.
Scams involve criminals stealing the details and photos of legitimate villas and listing them under fake names. They also con customers into thinking they are renting directly with the owner by intercepting the owners e-mail. The fraudsters will persuade customers to pay by bank transfer, which is not a safe method of payment. Barclays found that 43% of the people surveyed would not hear alarm bells if they were asked to pay for a holiday via bank transfer, but this is how people can lose thousands of pounds, because once paid, it’s difficult to have your money refunded as the bank are operating under your instructions.
Tips for staying safe
It’s always best to book directly through a reputable travel agent. Research the company, check reviews and how long the villa has been advertised. The longer it has been on the books, the more likely it is to be genuine.
Always do your research into the advertised villa if you are unsure. The best thing to do is phone the company for more information on the property, location, and even what’s in the surrounding area.
Think about whether the price is too good to be true. A villa that is advertised at half the going rate with great availability in peak season, whilst other villas are full, just doesn’t add up. There are lots of other villas out there, so if it does seem too good to be true, don’t book it!
Be vigilant when booking agents ask you to pay by bank transfer. This is maybe not the safest method of payment. Where possible pay by credit card, as you’re more likely to be protected from fraudulent activities.
All card payments with Debbie’s Villas are made through Worldpay - your payment is secure and you’ll feel rest assured that it’s going to the right place.
If you’re feeling pressured to book in a way you’re not comfortable, with something like a lock-in deal, this is another warning that something isn’t right. 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. You could always give them a call to find out more information. Genuine booking agents will be more than happy to speak to you and provide evidence that they are who they say they are.
Book with an ABTA member
Another point taken from the Barclays survey, is that less than half of the people surveyed (around 45%) would check their booking is with a member of a consumer protection scheme trade body, such as ABTA. It seems there are not enough customers checking this information before they book, leaving them susceptible to having less protection if something goes wrong.
Debbie’s Villas is a proud member of ABTA (our ABTA registration number is Y5238), so booking with us means your holiday is protected. We are monitored by ABTA and adhere to their strict Codes of Conduct. You can verify that a company is a member of ABTA through the ABTA website, with their very straightforward member search.
If something unexpected was to happen with a villa booked through us, we take responsibility for your booking and guarantee that you won’t lose your money. If you book directly with a villa owner, you will not have this peace of mind. Booking directly may be cheaper, but there’s a greater risk of fraud and it will be harder to get a solution if things go wrong.
We take pride in our villas, as each one is inspected before it goes onto the website. We also re-inspect them regularly, so you can trust us knowing that the villa is exactly as described; if we wouldn’t stay there, why should you?
You can also check our terms and conditions for more information, which will confirm exactly what you are buying.
If you have any other questions, then please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01892 836822. We will get back to you with the answers you need.
† Barclays surveyed more than 2,000 customers between April and October 2017. Full article at barclays.com