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5 common travel scams to look out for

Holidays are the perfect time to kick back, relax and enjoy yourself, so the last thing you want is for your trip to be ruined by a dodgy scammer. 

Unfortunately, retirees in particular are often most vulnerable when it comes to online scams, as they’re usually less tech-savvy and use the computer regularly as they’re at home more often.

Here are some of the most common travel scams to look out for.

1. Rogue taxi drivers

To avoid paying for an inflated fare and being aimlessly driven around the streets before finally arriving at your destination, discuss the fare with your driver beforehand and ensure that he or she has a metre inside the vehicle. You can also check out websites or to get a rough estimate of how much your journey from the airport to your hotel will cost, too. 

2. Fake itineraries

Beware of fake e-ticket itineraries containing viruses. Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas have all reported similar schemes in the past. These dodgy itineraries usually take the form of .zip files, although airlines only ever send documents relating to your booking in the form of PDFs that can be downloaded directly. 

A similar scam involves emails sent to people that say they were charged for an airline ticket, but has malicious software attached instead.

3. Holiday rental scams

If you’ve scored a ridiculously cheap online deal for a rental property, beware. Before you pay a booking fee, do your research. Unfortunately, scammers often compile fake accommodation ads to entice travellers, only to leave you high and dry when you realise you have nowhere to stay the night and you’ve handed over your money to them. 

If you’d like to live like a local and stay in an apartment while you’re away, book through a reputable website or accredited agency.

4. Dodgy travel agents

If you decide to book your trip through a travel agent, make sure they’re accredited through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ ATAS scheme. These agents must abide by a code of conduct and stick to a stringent set of rules when dealing with their customers.

Mark O’Brien, director at Trade Travel knows one Probus Club that lost a considerable amount of money when they sent a deposit to their travel agent, who then went into receivership and was never heard from again. 

“If you’re booking online, make sure the company is accredited to the body, especially if you are dealing with someone overseas. Whoever you deal with online must be accredited under the laws of the country,” Mark advises. “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.” 

5. Beware of travel vouchers

Have you just got news that you’ve won travel vouchers in a competition? Be careful - there are scammers out there who like to entice their victims with vouchers, only to then try signing them up for a holiday deal. It might seem like a heavily discounted deal, but in reality, these deals often don’t exist and you’ll be left out of pocket or stranded overseas with no accommodation. 

“Watch out - scammers may also claim to be affiliated with well-known and reputable businesses to try and convince you that they’re the real deal. Sometimes the scammers will provide the tickets and itinerary but when it comes time to travel the tickets are useless and the business cannot be contacted,” states the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website. 

According to the ACCC, it’s important that you deal with a reputable business when it comes to booking your travel online. Find out if you’ve been offered the real deal, call the holiday accommodation directly and research the business that you’re dealing with. 

If you do think you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately and call the ACCC on 1300 795 995.