Holiday scams cost consumers over £3,500

19 August 2013

Consumers falling victim to scams while on holiday are losing an average of £3,677, according to a survey by consumer rights group Which?

While people lose an average of £1,488 to scams in general, the figure is higher for holiday scams as holidaymakers are less likely to be on their guard and thus more likely to fall victim to criminals abroad.

In the past three years, Which? found that two-thirds of its members had been exposed to a scam, or they knew someone who had. Seven in 10 (72%) people surveyed said they had noticed an increase in scam correspondence in the last three years, and eight in 10 (79%) were concerned about a friend or family member being tricked.

But despite the sums being swindled out of people, consumers are becoming more savvy about recognising certain scam, with 94% of members telling Which? they did not respond to the phishing emails they received from criminals.

Phishing emails are sent by criminals posing as your bank, in the hope you will click on links in the email and they can obtain your personal details.

However, scammers are becoming more sophisticate, with new online shopping scams most likely to catch consumers out: three-quarters (73%) of people exposed to online shopping scams were tricked, losing £112 on average.

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Other common scams include document processing sites, with half (50%) of those exposed to the scam falling for it, premium texts (46%), holiday scams (43%) and investment scams (25%).

Online shopping scams involve crinimals taking your money for goods that either fail to arrive or are far less valuable (or significantly different) than the advertised product. Document processing sites aren't illegal, but they usually charge you more for a service - such as passport or EHIC applications - than you need to pay.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: "It's encouraging that consumers are becoming more vigilant about spotting common scams, but as the scammers get more sophisticated, many people are still falling victim, with some being left severely out of pocket.

"Consumers should treat any unexpected correspondence with suspicion and be particularly wary of anything that sounds too good to be true."

Top tips to avoid being scammed

  • Never click on links in emails claiming to be from banks, PayPal etc. Visit the official website in a separate browser window and log into your account.
  • If you receive a questionable email, enter the heading of the email into a search engine to see if it has already been flagged up as a scam.
  • If suspicious, never call the telephone numbers provided to check on an organisation – call the numbers you have listed for the company/organisation.
  • Wherever possible, report scams to the relevant authorities or organisations to ensure that they are aware of them.

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