FraudSMART warns consumers of increased risk of staycation scams, such as copycat websites, as criminals exploit latest advice to holiday at home
Monday 27 July 2020 – FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), is today warning consumers of an increased risk of staycation scams as fraudsters exploit current travel restrictions and the demand for domestic holidays following the latest Government advise to holiday at home.
With the latest research from Fáilte Ireland showing that 60% of people are now planning a break in Ireland in the next six months, FraudSMART is urging consumers to take extra caution as they go about booking their holiday. Speaking about the risks involved and how to avoid falling victim, Keith Gross, Head of Financial Crime & Security, BPFI said: “In light of the recently published Green List and Government advise on non-essential foreign travel and holidaying at home this summer there has been a surge in demand for ‘staycation’ holidays as people opt to stay in Ireland. We know that in June alone the number of people searching for holiday homes around the country was up 112% on the same time last year*.
“As a result of this pent-up demand, we are warning consumers of an increased risk in holiday purchase scams as fraudsters take advantage of this. The types of scams we anticipate include copycat websites offering holiday accommodation which will look almost identical to the legitimate site. We are also warning consumers to be on the lookout for fake emails and ads on social media offering holiday deals which appear to be offering bargain prices but are in reality too good to true.
“Today we are warning consumers to take extra caution when they are booking domestic holidays and are outlining the key advice holidaymakers should follow to avoid getting caught out and risk loosing their hard earned cash along with their holiday. This include simple checks and tips such as ensuring any website that you use to book a holiday is genuine, never clicking through to a sellers website via an email link or social media advert and never forgetting that if an offer looks too good to be true is usually is.”
Top tips and checks when researching and booking staycation accommodation
- Thoroughly research any on-line offer. Check website/web address is genuine and only purchase through an official website.
- Type the URL of the company/seller directly into your browser rather than clicking on it from an e-mail or social media post which could take you to a fraudulent site.
- Avoid cheap on-line deals or ‘super deals’ you’ll find on social media ads. If the price of your holiday is considerably cheaper that the average cost elsewhere you should be suspicious. Remember if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check out whether the website offering the deal has been reviewed online across different trusted sources.
- Use a reputable company and make sure the web address for the reputable company is legitimate.
- Independently verify the property if possible by using Google maps/Street view.
- If renting private /self -catering accommodation, call the owner or agent directly to ensure that it is a real listing also look out to see if the company/firm/owner is a member of a recognised travel/accommodation authority
- Most listings are genuine and legitimate but watch out for fake listings. Popular and well known holiday booking websites such as Airbnb, booking.com and FiveStar.ie are reliable places to find accommodation.
- Fake Websites and Fake Social Media Accounts – scammers and criminals will use the opportunity of holiday offers and deals to set up fake websites offering cheap on-line deals which are used to obtain your money and personal information. Websites may look like that of a genuine organisation but subtle changes in the web address indicate that it is fraudulent. Beware of lookalike domain spelling errors in emails and websites addressed.
- Be vigilant. Scammers and criminals do contact people by social media scam ads and posts, phishing e-mails, texts and via calls to scam them. The links contained in the posts ultimately take you to fake websites requesting your personal and financial information.
- Be wary of unsolicited promotional emails, pop-ups and other online adverts offering deals or cheap offers. Never click or follow on an embedded link or weblink that arrives in an e-mail. Instead use your browser to find your holiday booking and check their official website
- Warning sign if you are being pressured. You are rushed and pressured into making a decision there and then, ‘last chance to book’ or ‘avoid missing this booking’ is constantly referenced.
- As with any on-line offer, pay particular attention to the ‘Terms and Conditions’ (T&C’s) and always read the small print in such offers.
- Be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer. Paying by direct bank transfer means your money will be difficult to trace in the event of something going wrong and if it is a scam, it will be very difficult to get your money back.
- Genuine suppliers/sellers traditionally have a merchant portal.
Further information on holiday scams and other fraud types can be found on the FraudSMART website www.fraudSMART.ie
Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org 087 9016880
FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with the following member banks, Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, PermanentTSB, Ulster Bank, An Post Money and Barclays. The programme aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple and impartial advice on how best they can protect themselves and their resources. www.fraudsmart.ie
Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland. Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.