5 things to watch out for online when booking a ‘staycation’

27 Jul 2020

Image: © Nigel/Stock.adobe.com

With ‘staycations’ set to surge in the coming months, online scammers may be ready to take advantage of unsuspecting holidaymakers.

With international travel being advised against, Fáilte Ireland has estimated that up to 60pc of Irish holidaymakers are set to have a ‘staycation’ in the next six months. However, as part of its new FraudSmart initiative, Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) has warned of a potential surge in online scams looking to exploit those booking a holiday close to home.

According to BPFI’s head of financial crime and security, Keith Gross, scams could include copycat websites offering holiday accommodation, which may look almost identical to the legitimate site, or fake emails and ads on social media offering holiday deals that appear too good to be true.

Here are five things to look out for when booking a staycation, according to FraudSmart:

  1. Scammers may use the opportunity to set up fake websites offering cheap online deals, which are used to obtain your money and personal information. While they may look like real websites, keep an eye out for subtle changes in web addresses, such as a spelling errors in the URL or email addresses.
  2. Be wary of unsolicited promotional emails, pop-ups and other online adverts offering deals or cheap offers. Never click or follow an embedded link or weblink that arrives in an email. Instead use your browser to find your holiday booking and check official websites.
  3. Watch out for fake listings of rental properties online. Make sure that the address you are given matches up with the images seen in the advert and research the property to see if anyone has potentially flagged it as a scam operation.
  4. 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.
  5. Avoid cheap online 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. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“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 losing their hard-earned cash along with their holiday,” Gross said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic