noun - a dishonest scheme; a fraud
verb - to swindle
This week it seems the press, radio and social media have been full on stories about holidaymakers being scammed out of large sums of money when booking a holiday. They think they are booking a genuine holiday property but in fact the email account of the owner has been hacked and all their emails and money transfers are with the fraudster not the owner.
The reporting has all been very much focused on the scammed families but there has been little thought given to the owners who have also been scammed and the knock on effect this is having. Genuine owners have lost bookings and thus valuable income. There is also a general feeling that an increasing number of people feel nervous booking a holiday direct with an owner. Much of the advice given to holiday makers has been to either book through an ABTA protected site (not direct with the owner) and if booking direct use a credit card. In reality that means holidays makers might move away from small privately owned properties such as ours. We are currently looking to use a system where we can take credit cards which will mean an extra cost for us to bear. However there are also many other simple steps that holiday makers can take to protect themselves as I blogged about here.
As owners we have to stay constantly vigilant to not fall victim to all sorts of scams ourselves. This week we were contacted by a legitimate sounding company which was anything but legitimate. The lady told us that we would be advertised on a site specifically available NHS and public sector workers who could get discounts when booking through them. We would also be on a site that the public can book through whose Twitter account purports to attract millions of visitors. She assured us we would get on average 8-13 booking a year and the only cost to us would be a £99 annual admin fee (refundable in full if we were to get no bookings).
Hmmmm - it all sounded a bit too good to be true so I did a bit of delving. It took me less than a minute to find a whole raft of forums and other pages warning of this scam. Whilst the public website does exist it has so few hits and is so unknown that no-one is likely to book through it and the NHS connection does not exist at all. Anyone who has paid up has received no bookings and their admin fee is, of course, never returned.
Oh yes and we are also getting exceedingly fed up with emails from the likes of Julie Love with her apparently lovely picture and some so called solicitor's firm in America who insist we have to go to court and please click on the attachment to find details. Thanks but no thanks.
|Be aware and protect your money|
What word would sum up your last 7 days? Something much more positive I hope.