Consumers are falling victim of bogus online holiday scams by not checking the validity of companies offering special deals, according to research from Abta and internet security awareness site GetSafeOnline.org

Almost one in three internet users booking holidays online do not confirm the authenticity of travel providers, such as by checking they are a member of a recognised trade association before handing over payment details, according to a study out today (Tuesday).

Other common pitfalls include not checking the web page is secure when entering payment details to help ensure credit card information cannot be intercepted by fraudsters. More than one in five of online holidaymakers neglect to do this.
 
Such measures become even more critical when consumers begin hunting for ‘almost too good to be true’ deals via the web, leading many to opt for unknown or un-recommended providers.

The poll of 1,000 adults last month found that more than a quarter of UK web users say they are driven primarily by price when choosing their holiday company, compared to just 4% who say service is the primary concern.

Search engines are the starting point for identifying holiday providers for almost a third of people. Only 11% go direct to the website of a well-known operator or one that has been personally recommended. 

Many holidaymakers are unaware of the most common scams – 67% of people say they have never heard of holiday rental scams, 68% responded in the same way to the idea of bogus holiday sites, with 81% unfamiliar with ‘gap-year’ fraud.
 
More than one in five say they have been approached with holiday deals or villa rentals via unsolicited emails, phones calls or SMS text messages from individuals or organisations they don’t know.

GetSafeOnline.org managing director Tony Neate said: “When we’ve been working hard the rest of the year, for most people, making sure we have a great summer holiday is really important. Fraudsters recognise this and play on people’s desires – we get caught up in the excitement of a ‘bargain dream holiday’ and cautiousness goes out of the window.”

Abta head of financial services Mike Monk said: “With the online travel industry worth many millions each year, it’s inevitable that fraudsters will follow the money trail.
 
“By being aware of the risks, knowing the ‘tell-tale’ signs to look out for and taking some basic prevention measures, there’s no reason why holidaymakers cannot enjoy the benefits of booking online.”  
  
Get Safe Online has issued a Travel Essentials Checklist, developed with Abta, at getsafeonline.org