Home Property Expert issues scam warning for Airbnb accommodation 

Expert issues scam warning for Airbnb accommodation 

21st May 24 4:31 pm

The UK & Europe leg of country-pop superstar Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is currently underway with plenty more UK dates up-coming.

Fans will be traveling far and wide to see the sold-out tour, the London dates are 22st, 22nd, and 23rd June followed by 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th, and 20th August at Wembley stadium. Expert warns Swift fans to be extra cautious when booking accommodation due to online travel scams.

New data collated by expert PayFasto analyses Trustpilot reviews to identify which have received the highest percentage of scam-related comments among users.

Top of the list is Airbnb – an online marketplace that connects people who are looking for accommodation, typically short stays, with people who rent out their properties. 8.7% of reviews for Airbnb on Trustpilot referenced scam keywords.

Second on the list is Trivago – a hotel comparison site with hotel prices and deals from hundreds of travel sites. 7.5% of reviews on Trustpilot referenced scam-related keywords.

Ranking third is Hotels.com with 6.5% of reviews customers had mentioned keywords relating to scams. Hotels.com is also a hotel-only comparison site.

Fourth on the list is Myholidays offering flights, hotels, and packages. Data shows 6.1% of reviews related to scam type keywords.

Booking.com an accommodation-only booking site ranks fifth with 5.8% of reviews containing a scam-related keyword.

Data also analysed a list of Google searches made by every UK city (scaled to per 100k of the population), to determine where is currently seeking a holiday deal the most and is deemed most at risk of holiday scams.

Among the keywords considered were ‘travel packages’, ‘holiday deals’, ‘cheap last-minute holidays’, and ‘cheap airline tickets’.

The UK city deemed most likely to be at risk of a scam is Durham with 14,754 average Google searches for holiday deals per month. This is more than double the searches made by the runner-up city.

The second city most at risk and searching for a bargain is Bolton, with an average of 6,885 holiday deal-related Google searches per month.

The third city most on the lookout for a getaway deal is Warwick, with 6,306 related Google searches, fourth is Croydon, with an average of 5,597, and fifth is Newcastle upon Tyne with 5,250 average searches per month.

A substantial £12.3 million was lost last year in the UK to holiday fraud, and while Brits love a bargain especially when it comes to breaks away seeking bargains often enough can lead to becoming a victim of nasty scams.

The number of people being conned into paying for fake flights and accommodation is high. In 2023, Action Fraud received 6,640 reports of holiday fraud, largely due to more people seeking a cheap holiday deal due to the cost-of-living crisis.

With the increase over the past couple of years in holiday fraud, some essential things to investigate before parting with any cash are:

  • Price – Is the price more or less in line with other holiday companies? Do your research. Sometimes, if a deal looks way too good to be true, it often is.
  • ATOL Protected—The ATOL scheme (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protects you when you book a package trip that includes a flight. This is separate from your insurance. The majority of travel booking websites clearly have an ATOL-protected sticker on them. You should also get an ATOL certificate once you book. The official ATOL website does have a search page where you can also confirm legitimacy.
  • Customer service numbers—A reputable travel site should have a customer service team to contact if you have any questions. Make sure you do research on the site and make sure they have legitimate ways to contact them if you were in the position where you needed to. If the site has no contact options, then this is certainly a red flag.

Dennis Pedersen, CEO of PayFasto said, “The figures from last year’s holiday fraud reports are shocking. One of the other common ways scammers will try their luck is with payment processing. No reputable travel site should ever ask you to transfer money directly to a bank account – all payments should be handled online securely.

“One way to safely pay online when booking a trip away is to use a credit card. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and will refund fraudulent transactions in certain circumstances (always check with the card provider).

“Using a credit card also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main current account won’t be affected directly. Other ways to protect your account details online are using Google and Apple Pay and services such as PayPal, as the business then won’t see your details directly.”

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