Police are urging people searching for holidays to be wary of scammers
Police are urging people searching for holidays to be wary of scammers

Police are urging people in Northern Ireland to be on their guard when booking their holidays and watch out for tricks scammers use to con people.  

Nationally, figures from Action Fraud reveal scammers conned consumers out of more than £15m last year, which amounts to an average loss of £2,372 per victim. In Northern Ireland, figures show between April last year and this March, 105 people fell victim to this type of fraud, around a two per cent increase on last year. 

"It's natural for people to search for deals when it comes to booking their holiday trips, we all do it," says Chief Superintendent Gerard Pollock, Chair of ScamwiseNI Partnership, "but too often what can seem as a bargain holiday, or a good deal online, is the start of a scam. These scams will not only leave people out of pocket, but also scupper their holiday plans. You may end up paying twice for flights or accommodation."  

Some of the scams we have seen recently are paying partial deposits online for accommodation that either doesn't exist or is a fake website for genuine accommodation. 

"Making sure you carry out thorough research on the company, website or person you're booking with is crucial," said Chief Superintendent Pollock. "There are also some really straightforward things that will keep you right when booking a holiday. Don't rely on just one website or review. If it's a fake there's a good chance others will write about their experience and some basic internet research will find it. Look for the logo, check to see if the company is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and, if you're booking a flight, check to see it's approved by Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL). If it is a recent website or new social media page be extra cautious.

"Never pay by bank transfer - the safest way to pay is by credit card and, where at all possible, avoid paying by bank transfer to someone you do not know or have not met in person. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is."

For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni You can also call Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040 or police on the non-emergency number 101. Information and advice is available on our website  https://www.psni.police.uk/safety-and-support/keeping-safe/protecting-yourself/scams-and-fraud