How to Avoid Holiday Scams | NatWest

How to Avoid
Holiday Scams

Enjoy peace of mind on holiday
by taking steps to protect
yourself from fraud.

Add your signposting title here… Holiday scams: what to know before you go

Fraudsters can try to trick you before you even get on the plane. This is sometimes known as holiday fraud.

Holiday fraud is when fraudsters attempt to sell you holidays or tours that don’t exist. Use these tips to make sure your feet touch foreign soil.

  • Only book a holiday with a company you know and trust
  • Beware of accommodation providers that ask for a direct bank transfer
  • Think twice if someone tries to get you to pay outside of your trusted booking website
  • Use review sites to see if your accommodation is genuine

Phishing, smishing, vishing and Twishing

Fraudsters can target you using:

In each case, you will be encouraged to click a link, call a number or pay for a holiday deal you didn’t ask for. The company, deals or prizes will usually be fake.

Add your signposting title here… Avoiding holiday fraud
  • Never click a link from an email, social media message or text 
  • Never call the number given to you in an unwanted email, social media message or text 
  • Never make a payment over the phone to a travel agent, unless you’ve called the official number to make the booking yourself

Lookout for protection schemes

  • When you buy a holiday from a member of these schemes you get protection on your payments. Check the name of the company you're using on these official websites: 
  • ABTA is the Association of British Travel Agents and is the UK’s largest travel association. Provided that your travel agent is a member, your money is protected and you’re entitled to a refund if they close down
  • ATOL is an Air Travel Organiser’s License. If your travel agent has an ATOL, but goes out of business – you won’t get stranded or lose your money

To avoid fake websites, never use the link on a travel agent’s website to get to the ABTA or ATOL sites. Always search for the official link yourself.

Holiday scams: what to know when you get there

Open Wi-Fi networks aren’t always secure

Data roaming charges can be expensive, so free Wi-Fi (like the open networks you find in hotels) can be really handy. But that doesn’t mean they’re always secure.


These networks are usually open, which means anyone can log on or that many people have the password. This makes it easier for fraudsters to see any details you enter on the same network.


  • Make sure the SSID (or network name) is the one printed in official hotel guest books. Scammers sometimes set up fake hotel networks with names that are very similar to the genuine one
  • When using open Wi-Fi networks, stick to messaging and browsing, and avoid entering any personal information.


Changing money

Changing money can give fraudsters an opportunity to try to trick you out of your holiday funds. Use a credit card where possible and try to order your travel money online before you leave.


  • Make sure you find out exchange rates yourself and get an idea of how much currency you should be getting  
  • Count money carefully to make sure you get the amount you’re expecting
  • When paying for goods abroad with a card, always pay in local currency so that your UK bank does the conversion


Restaurant scams

Sometimes tourists can be an easy target for fraudsters, particularly if they aren’t familiar with the currency. One way this can happen is with a restaurant scam.  This might include finding out your bill is far larger than expected because you’ve been charged for snacks and drinks that seemed like they were complimentary, or you’ve simply been overcharged for tiny portions.


To avoid a potential restaurant scam, make sure you:


  • Pay in local currency where possible
  • Look at reviews to find the best places to eat before you arrive
  • Look out for additional charges, like cover charges or water charges
  • Only eat or drink what you’ve ordered
  • Use the menu to work out the cost while deciding what to order
  • Make sure you get an itemised receipt


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