Check out the latest Scam Alert advice



Check out the latest Scam Alert advice

by John Trotter (January 2022)

IN the last few days we have seen the move to ending Covid lockdown rules, and by coincidence BBC has been showing a new series of Rip Off Britain, concentrating on stories about holiday scams and frauds. If you missed these programmes, and you are planning a holiday for this year, I recommend that you catch-up on these shows via i-player before you make a booking. Here are a few tips to avoid falling victim to one of the (many) holiday frauds that are around. With the end to Plan B, many of us will be taking to the internet to arrange our bookings, and the scammers are just waiting to strike. So here are a few tips.

Stay safe online: check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org. Even if you are on a genuine website, you might be asked to click on another link to confirm hotel or apartment booking, and I recommend that you check that link separately before continuing. Watch out then for any sort of red flag warning to indicate an illegal site.

Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and leave warnings about the company.

Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website. If you're booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA ( Civil Aviation Authority) website.

Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card. You should avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.

Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and especially terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.

Use your instincts: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Finally this week here are 2 more scam protection tips.

Number 1: NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) says that criminals make use of information about you that’s available online (including on social media sites) to make their phishing messages more convincing. You can reduce the likelihood of being phished by thinking about what personal information you (and others) post about you, and by taking time to review your privacy settings in any social media accounts you may have.

Number 2: Keep you personal details secure. This includes your mobile devices, computers, passwords and even your physical mail. Taking time to double check your security and devices settings can help safeguard you against identity theft, hacking and other scams.

If you are scammed online, you can contact Citizens Advice over the phone (Mon — Fri 9am to 5pm) on 0808 250 5050, or via webchat, or use the online helper tool to identify whether something is a scam at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/.

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice . 0808 278 7841 (freephone) Mon – Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm and text relay for people with hearing impairment: Text relay: 03444 111 445 for people with hearing impairment .The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line 0800 144 8 444. Their website address is www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk



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