January is a popular time to jet off for a dose of winter sun or to book that highly-anticipated summer holiday.
However, Barclays is warning travellers about the risk of holiday villa scams, which could lose holidaymakers hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.
Holidaymakers losing up to £5,000 because of scams
Barclays’ figures come from customers who have reported holiday villa scams directly to the bank. Over a third (37 per cent) of these reported scams result in losses of between £1,000 and £5,000.
Research found that more than a third (36 per cent) of victims were aged 30 to 44 years old and, in 59 per cent of reported cases, the victims were women.
Alongside looking at its own data on villa scams between the months of April and October 2017, Barclays also surveyed over 2,000 consumers.
This survey found that more than half (55 per cent) of people said they would not be put off booking a holiday even if it seemed “too good to be true” and 14 per cent of people said they would still book holiday accommodation despite knowing there was a risk of being scammed.
How do these scams happen?
Holiday villa scams can occur when details of overseas villas are hijacked or the scammer uses fake details to trick holidaymakers into transferring money to them.
“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,” said Ross Martin, Barclays’ head of digital safety.
“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.”
How can I avoid being scammed?
According to the stufy, half (45 per cent) of people would check their booking with a consumer protection scheme trade body member like Abta, who offer advice and tips which can help to prevent a scam from taking place.
Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive said, “Abta sees at first-hand the damage caused by travel fraudsters with the many devastated customers who contact us for advice after they find out their much-anticipated holiday or trip to visit loved ones may not actually exist.
“The cost to them is not just financial – this crime causes very real disappointment and emotional distress.
“However this does not need to happen. Check and follow the tips and advice on abta.com and you will not fall victim to these unscrupulous individuals.
Mr Tanza also explained that anyone who has fallen victim to a holiday scam should always report it to Action Fraud.