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Five Tips To A Scam Free Holiday

Delia Rickard
16th November, 2014

With the end of the year fast approaching, many Australians are starting to think about their next big holiday. Scammers are also planning a quick getaway—with your money!

So far this year, the ACCC has received 1,650 complaints about travel scams, with $100,000 reported lost.

Most complainants were contacted by phone and many were offered holiday vouchers for $2,000 or $3,000.

Others were sold fake trips to Florida or the Bahamas including tickets to theme parks or cruises at greatly discounted rates.

Scammers have also recently been using a fraudulent phone message from QANTAS or Virgin, which tells people they have won a ‘travel prize’ or ‘credit points’ (typically $999) towards their next holiday.

The catch is, in order to redeem the credit, you have to answer several questions, including handing over credit card details so that the ‘prize’ can be processed, but in reality you find money stolen from your account not added to it.

Follow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s top five tips to avoid travel and holiday scams.

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Many scams will promote ‘free’, ‘complimentary’ and ‘discounted’ deals that may sound so appealing that they are hard to resist. Find out if the offer is the real deal – call the holiday accommodation provider directly, research the ‘business’ that you’re dealing with, and search online for reviews.
  2. Know who you’re dealing with: If you have doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly. Don’t rely on contact details provided by the person – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
  3. Book through an accredited agent: If you are looking to go on a holiday, you can use a travel agent to make sure you get legitimate accommodation. If using a travel agent, find out if they are accredited through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ ATAS scheme. ATAS-accredited agents must abide by a code of conduct and have dispute resolution procedures in place.
  4. The way you pay matters: Different means of payment offer different protections. Be wary of requests for cheques, bank or wire transfers when booking travel. If booking online, choose secure payment methods. If you pay with a credit card, you may be able to seek a chargeback if you don’t get what you pay for.
  5. If you think you’ve been scammed, report it: If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Further information on scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au

Delia Rickard
Deputy Chair
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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