Check out the latest Scam Alert!

Check out the latest Scam Alert!

by John Trotter (June 2022)

I hope all the Sefton fathers had a great Father’s Day, just as I did, with thanks to my family. In the run-up to Fathers Day, we saw that the scammers were trying to defraud residents.

For example, scammers were found to be impersonating B&Q in WhatsApp, offering the opportunity to participate in a fraudulent contest.The phoney WhatsApp message reads ‘B&Q Father’s Day Contest 2022’ and goes on to advertise 5,000 free gas barbecues to be won by entering a competition. It’s no surprise that the scammers like to use seasonal events as a hook for their fake competitions. Promoted as a Father’s Day present, scammers were also sending fake WhatsApp messages with a hoax competition to win a beer cooler. While coolers full of Heineken beers sound tempting in this hot weather, always act with caution with messages that arrive out of the blue from unknown contacts.

A Citizens Advice colleague had a Father s Day scam Whats App message from Screwfix offering a free drill for Father’s Day, but when you clicked the link and looked at the website address it was not Screwfix and obviously fake.

Now turning to summer holidays and scams. I checked the ABTA website and found an interesting article on holiday fraud, and guidance about self-protection. Every year, fraudsters steal millions by targetting unsuspecting holiday makers and travellers. Not only do victims lose substantial sums of money, but many holidays are ruined, with people unable to afford a replacement.

Holiday booking fraud is when people hand over money only to discover the holiday, accommodation or flight they paid for doesn’t exist.

Fraudsters are conning unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers out of millions each year, or leaving them stranded with nowhere to stay.

The most common types of booking fraud are: 

Holiday Accommodation: Fraudsters are making full use of the internet to con holidaymakers by setting up fake websites, hacking into legitimate accounts and posting fake adverts on websites and social media. 

Airline tickets: Where a customer believes they are booking a flight and receives a fake ticket, or pays for a ticket that never turns up.

Sports and religious trips: A popular target for fraud due to limited availability of tickets and consequently higher prices. 

Timeshares and holiday clubs: The sums involved with this form of fraud are particularly high with victims typically losing thousands of pounds. 

Top tips to help avoid holiday booking fraud

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.

Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If they’re suspect, other people may well have posted their experiences warning people off.

Look for the logo: Check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website and if you have any doubts, verify membership by visiting our ABTA Member search. 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, then please visit the CAA website.

Pay safe: Never pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. 

Check the paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices and 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 something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Report it: Victims should always contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or register via Action Fraud.

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: 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 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



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