Holiday fraud is on the rise, with our increasing use of the internet making it is easier than ever for con-artists to trick families out of their hard-earned cash and rob them of their dream holidays. This means it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from this sort of crime.

That’s where I-PRAC comes in.

I-PRAC was established to target holiday rental fraud and give travellers the necessary peace of mind when booking rental accommodation for holidays or business trips.

Backed by a team with over 20 years’ rental industry experience, I-PRAC’s verification service ensures legitimate rental agencies and property owners can distance themselves from fraudsters, giving clients the confidence to book with them.

What do we mean by holiday fraud?

Put simply, holiday fraud means paying for a holiday package, flights or accommodation, only to discover that they don’t exist.

If you’re lucky, you’ll discover this before setting off, but all too often we hear stories of families finding themselves stranded in foreign countries with nowhere to stay.

Research shows that fraudsters are primarily targeting people booking airline tickets, package holidays, self-catering villas and apartments, as well as those applying for foreign visas

How does it happen?

More often than not fraudsters tout their fake holidays and accommodation online, through bogus websites, false advertising and email scams.

Con artists use sophisticated techniques to trick you into believing they are legitimate, including professional photographs of properties, which have probably been stolen from travel websites, and apparently genuine customer service emails and phone lines. You can even be targeted when booking through well-known, reputable online platforms.

You’ll most likely be told to pay in cash via a bank transfer, often through sources that are difficult to trace and non-refundable. Once you’ve transferred your money, you will never hear from the fraudsters again. You may not even discover the fraud has taken place until you’re arriving at the airport for a flight you’re not actually booked on or standing on a plot of wasteland where you thought your luxury villa would be.

How to spot holiday fraud

There are various signs of holiday fraud and some red flags to look out for which should set the alarm bells ringing.

These include:

  • Being contacted out of the blue by a company you’ve never dealt with before, offering deals that seem too good to be true
  • Any details or photographs of a holiday accommodation that look suspicious
  • Non-existent website reviews
  • Being asked to pay using cash or a bank transfer

How to protect yourself

Looking out for these warning signs can go some way to protecting you from holiday fraud, but the main thing you can do to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to use I-PRAC.

All I-PRAC members are thoroughly vetted and checked, and we will even insure 100% of your accommodation fees against rental fraud – completely free of charge – if you book with one of our approved providers.

If you suspect rental fraud, you can report it online to Action Fraud.