Warning over 'worrying increase' in hotel booking scams
The PSNI and Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHS) are urging the public to be cautious when booking hotel rooms online this summer.
PSNI Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said there has been an increase in reports of fake bookings and encouraged members of the public to do a thorough check of all apartments or hotels before booking.
"There has been a worrying increase in the number of holiday scams reported to police. People are being duped into booking hotel rooms and apartments that simply do not exist via 'fake' websites and social media posts," he said.
"I would encourage all travellers to be vigilant if and when making an online booking.
"As a rule of thumb, you should read reviews of the hotel or the actual site offering the deal, check the authenticity of the website and if needs be contact the hotel directly to check if they recognise the platform that is offering the room.”
According to the NIHF, fraudulent bookings often arise from offers for last minute deals and overnight stays.
"We have probably all received emails promoting last minute deals in various hotels. However, I would urge people to think twice and do some basic checks and research before committing to a booking," said Janice Gault, Chief Executive of the NIHF.
"From time to time hotels will run their own promotional offers via their designated social media platforms. Such offers tend to be last minute deals for a variety of hotel services including overnight accommodation and are more often than not genuine."
Ms Gault recommended that any doubts about offers or deals should be checked through hotels directly by reaching out to them for "clarity".
"It’s worth ringing the hotel and checking directly with them that the offer you are looking at is legitimate, as we are seeing an increase in the number of ‘fake offers’ on social media sites."