Sunday 25 September 2016

Charlie Weston: Don't let the con artists spoil your holiday by becoming the victim of a sting

Don't let the con artists spoil your holiday by becoming the victim of a sting - avoid paying in cash or transferring money to individuals

Published 16/06/2016 | 02:30

Tourists are often singled out for aggressive selling practices and are frequently misled into paying inflated prices for products.
Tourists are often singled out for aggressive selling practices and are frequently misled into paying inflated prices for products.

People on holiday are easy prey for dodgy characters who see them as targets for scams. It is not just those in France for the football who will be obvious targets for the scammers. Anyone away from home usually sticks out.

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Tourists are the key target every summer without fail.

They are singled out for aggressive selling practices, are often misled into paying inflated prices for products, and are vulnerable to having their credit cards scammed.

Cases spike in the summer months, with the most commonly-targeted age group those between the ages of 30 and 49, many of whom will have young families, according to research by British police.

One of the big tricks to be wary of is the accommodation scam. This is where a scammer targets those who are booking holiday rental properties abroad.

According to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the scammer copies photos and information from a genuine listings on a property website and creates a false listing on another site.

But it gets worse. When someone gets in contact about a potential holiday rental, the con artist tells them the property is in high demand, and the best way to secure it is to transfer a deposit immediately.

Once the money is transferred, it is a case of the victim being unable to contact the landlord.

The Commission, which is a state body, says the best defence from this is to rent from a genuine holiday website, and always make sure you pay through that site.

If the contact for the rental property asks you to email them directly or encourages you to leave the site promising a better deal, don't do it.

Fake airline tickets is another scam to be aware of.

This involves consumers booking a flight and receiving a fake ticket or paying for a ticket that just doesn't turn up.

Major sports events are a boom for con artists as, no doubt, football fans in France are finding out.

But the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will also present opportunities to the unscrupulous.

According to UEFA, their ticket portal is the only authorised way to buy tickets from people offering their tickets for resale.

However, there may be other unofficial reselling sites, which may be offering tickets but will be reselling them at a huge mark-up.

You could end up paying a large sum of money for a ticket, that doesn't exist or isn't accepted when you try to enter the stadium.

If you buy a ticket from an individual private seller, either face to face or online, such as from an auction site, you don't have consumer rights if you run into any problems, according to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Watch out for fake websites offering tickets simply to get access to your credit card details. The best way to avoid scams is by realising that if the offer seems too good to be true, is probably is.

It may be quick and easy, but you should avoid paying directly into the owner's bank account. If something goes wrong it is much more difficult to trace and retrieve your funds, as is the case with cash.

Try and pay by credit card if you can - you can get the value of a dodgy transaction returned by your credit card provider. Only buy from legitimate retailers, and do some research before signing any forms.

Irish Independent

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