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10 Tips to Help You Avoid Online Scams When Booking Your Holiday

Cristina POPOV

June 20, 2024

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10 Tips to Help You Avoid Online Scams When Booking Your Holiday

The convenience of booking holidays online has become a standard practice for many travelers as the world becomes increasingly digital. According to  TechReport, 80% of holiday bookings are now made online, making travel booking the 4th easiest online shopping experience.

The ease of comparing prices, reading reviews, and booking flights and accommodations from the comfort of one's home has driven this trend. However, this convenience also comes with risks, as online scams targeting holiday bookings are on the rise.

Did you know?

  • Australia. Scams mentioning the popular travel booking website Booking.com surged by more than 580% last year, with total losses reaching more than $337,000, according to The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
  • Japan. Over 100 hotels in Japan have fallen victim to email scams that try to steal customers' credit card information using the accommodation reservation site Booking.com, a Kyodo News tally found Saturday.
  • The UK. Over £15 million was lost to holiday booking scams between April 2022 and April 2023, marking a 41% increase from the previous year, according to Action Fraud.​.

Ten tips to avoid scams when booking your holiday online

As you plan your getaway, stay vigilant and protect yourself from online scams that could turn your dream vacation into a nightmare.

Here are ten tips to ensure your holiday booking is safe and secure.

1. Use only reputable booking websites

The first step in avoiding online scams is to book through well-known, reputable websites. Sites like Expedia, Booking.com, and Airbnb have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Additionally, these platforms offer customer support and dispute resolution services, which can be invaluable if something goes wrong. Avoid booking through unfamiliar or unverified websites that may not have the same level of security or even buying your holiday from Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

Related: Facebook Marketplace scams you should avoid

2. Verify the legitimacy of the property

Before making any payments, ensure that the property you are booking is legitimate. Look for properties with multiple high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and numerous reviews from previous guests. If the listing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Contact the property owner or manager directly to ask questions and verify details. Be wary of properties with limited information, those that request immediate payment outside the booking platform.

Related: How to Spot Scammers on Craigslist. What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

3. Read reviews and ratings

Reviews and ratings from previous travelers can provide valuable insights into the legitimacy and quality of a property. Pay attention to both the positive and negative feedback, and look for patterns that might indicate recurring issues. If a property has no reviews or only a few reviews, proceed with caution. Additionally, consider using platforms that verify guest reviews to ensure they are authentic.

Related: How to tell whether a Facebook ad is a scam. A closer look at the airport luggage sale fraud

4. Beware of phishing scams

Phishing scams are a common tactic cybercriminals use to steal your personal and financial information. These scams often involve fake emails or websites that mimic legitimate booking platforms. Always double-check the URL of the website you are using and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails. Instead, go to the booking site directly through your browser. Look for the padlock icon in the address bar, indicating that the site is secure.

Related: How Hackers Hijack Hotel Accounts on Booking.com to Scam You

5. Use secure payment methods

When booking your holiday, use secure payment methods such as credit cards or reputable payment services like PayPal. These methods offer additional protections and the ability to dispute charges if something goes wrong. Avoid using wire transfers or direct bank transfers, as these payment methods are difficult to trace and recover if you fall victim to a scam.

Related: PayPal Text Scams: How to Spot and Avoid Them

6. Beware of clicking online ads

When you start planning a trip online, you may suddenly see ads related to your search. However, some of these ads could be fake. Even the most convincing ones might lead you to a website that looks like a reputable booking site but is actually a scam. Always verify the legitimacy of any company being advertised. When conducting research online, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt data transmitted between your device and the router.

7. Use Scamio to check legitimacy

If you want to protect yourself from holiday booking scams, you can use Scamio. This tool is designed to verify the legitimacy of online listings and identify potential scams. You can enter the URL or details of a listing, and Scamio will provide information on its authenticity. You can also send texts, messages, links, QR codes, or images to Scamio for analysis to determine if they are part of a scam.

Scamio is free and available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and your web browser. You can also help others stay safe by sharing Scamio with them in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Australia, and the UK.

8. Be wary of last-minute deals

While last-minute deals can be tempting, they can also be a red flag for scams. Scammers often use the urgency of a limited-time offer to pressure you into making a quick decision. If you come across a last-minute deal that seems too good to be true, take the time to verify the legitimacy of the listing and the booking platform. Don't let the fear of missing out cloud your judgment.

9. Secure your personal information

Remember to safeguard your personal information when booking holidays online. Make sure to use strong, unique passwords for your booking accounts and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Be careful about sharing personal information like your address or phone number unless it's absolutely necessary for the booking process. If a website requests more information than seems reasonable, it may be a scam.

Is your personal information on the Internet at scammers’ discretion? Find out now with Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection.

10. Keep records of your booking

After completing your booking, keep detailed records of all communications, payment confirmations, and booking details. This documentation can be invaluable if you encounter any issues or need to dispute charges. Save copies of emails, take screenshots of booking confirmations, and make note of any reference numbers or contact information. Having a paper trail can help you resolve problems more efficiently.


How can I find the best booking deals that are not scams?

To find the best deals, use comparison websites like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Google Flights. Set fare alerts, book during off-peak times, and be flexible with your travel dates. Checking multiple sources and booking early can also help you secure better prices.

Be prudent with offers too good to be true or ads you see on social media.

How can I tell if a booking website is legitimate?

Copy/ paste the website's URL into Scamio's chat box and await its verdict. Look for security features like the padlock icon in the address bar and ensure the URL starts with "https". Read reviews on independent sites and check for a physical address and contact information.

What should I do if I think I've been scammed when booking a holiday?

If you suspect you've been scammed, contact your bank or payment provider immediately to report the fraud and dispute any charges. Additionally, report the scam to the booking platform and local authorities.

Is it safe to book holidays on my smartphone?

Yes, as long as you use secure, reputable booking apps and ensure your phone's operating system and security software are up to date. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for booking and payments to protect your information or use a VPN to secure your connection.

Booking your holiday online can be a convenient and enjoyable experience.  By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to online fraud and ensure that your summer getaway is memorable for all the right reasons.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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