UK holidaymakers issued travel scam warning ahead of February Half Term
Whether you’re looking to plan some quality time with the kids or you’re trying to book a bargain break away, keep reading.
The experts at Scams.info have provided their top tips to ensure that holidaymakers don’t get caught out this half-term.
It comes after the global home rental company Airbnb publish data which revealed that Brits lose £1400 on average to travel scams.
From pickpockets to transport, here are your top tips to help make your Half Term as stress-free as it can be.
Eight top tips to help you avoid being scammed on holiday
When taking trips abroad, it’s vital to consider how you will travel throughout the country beforehand, according to Scams.info.
Unregulated airport taxis could take advantage of the fact that you aren’t local.
This means that you could be charged extremely high rates or taken to the incorrect destination.
To avoid this situation, do your research and look for reliable, licensed taxi firms rather than getting into the first one you see.
In the majority of countries, taxi drivers are required to carry and display their ID badge in the vehicle.
You should always ask the driver what the fare will be before starting the journey.
Scams.info says that if the driver refuses to show you their ID or pre-warn you of fares, you should book with another taxi firm and not enter the vehicle.
2. Phony PCR
Some countries require you to report a valid, negative COVID test on entry.
Reports have emerged that some holidaymakers have been conned by scammers with fake PCR tests and ‘fit to fly’ certificates.
You should only get a PCR test that has been taken from a reputable source.
If you’re travelling from the UK, you can purchase PCR tests from most pharmacies and report the results through the NHS app.
3. Hotel and Accommodation
Scams.info advises that you fully research your holiday accommodation before booking your stay.
This includes looking at reviews with images of the property as well as checking it’s a registered building.
The advice follows an increasing number of adverts for accommodation “that isn’t real, outdated and different to the visuals provided,” the experts said.
The organisation advises that you book through reputable travel agencies to avoid illegitimate accommodation since the agency will cover all of the above bases for you.
4. Public WiFi
Although it might be convenient to sign in on shared public WiFi – on holiday or otherwise – it does come with risks.
Most hosts will offer holidaymakers services like shared public WiFi but you should remember that this is not as secure as your private network at home.
Holidaymakers are advised to only use sites and apps that don’t involve inputting personal information, like contact details or bank card details.
You could also download a VPN, which will allow you to block any unwarranted third-party companies from accessing your data.
READ MORE: Airbnb issues travel scam warning to UK travellers as Brits lose £1.4k on average
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“Pickpocketing is the oldest scam in the book, but now more than ever, scammers are becoming increasingly creative,” Scams.info commented.
The scam can take many forms including interacting with you directly, to allow time for a third party to steal from you when you’re distracted.
The organisation suggests that you keep your personal belongings close by when you’re in crowded, public spaces.
However, it added: “It’s best practice to leave valuables at home, but if you must bring them with you, store them in a money belt or bum bag to prevent theft”.
6. Activities and excursions
If you’re booking any trips or additional activities during the February Half Term, make sure you book through an official company.
Scams.info warns that some illegitimate companies may lack the health and safety precautions necessary to keep you safe abroad.
It suggests that the “safest option” is to book any extra activities or excursions directly through the same official travel agency that you booked your trip with.
However, if you go with a third-party organisation, just make sure to research the company beforehand and always look at previous customer reviews.
It’s important to note that no landmark will have official photographers, Scams.info shares.
Some companies may claim that only their photos are permitted and are doing this as a ploy to force you into paying them for something that is otherwise free.
You should instead always consult staff working in or nearby landmarks as they will likely have great general knowledge of the area and be able to advise you on any photography regulations.
You should thoroughly research any casino games you may wish to take part in whilst, on holiday, Scams.info has suggested.
It added: “Casino staff may explain a game to you in a lengthy way to take advantage of the fact that you lack knowledge in this area, and may favour the casino”.