Manchester City and West Ham fans scrambling to get flights and hotels in Istanbul and Prague are being urged to avoid scoring an own goal by getting scammed or booking with an unlicensed company in the rush to support their team.
As match tickets go on sale, demand for flights and accommodation to Istanbul for Manchester City’s Champions League Final on 10 June and West Ham’s Europa Conference League final in Prague on 7 June will be on the increase.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority is warning football fans to be on the lookout for scammers preying on fans and to check for ATOL protection.
Just this week, we teamed up with Action Fraud to launch a holiday fraud campaign. Action Fraud reported that in the last financial year, it received 6,457 reports of holiday fraud, amounting to over £15 million lost.
Travel fraud encompasses many different tactics employed by criminals to dupe unsuspecting members of the public. The most frequent holiday frauds are clone comparison websites, airline websites, and holiday websites.
The regulator is urging fans to take the appropriate steps by checking whether their booking will be protected by ATOL, as well as protect themselves by taking out travel insurance and not replying to unsolicited emails, texts, social media, or calls with offers.
Fans should also pay safe, such as booking with a credit card if they have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances.
Michael Budge, Head of ATOL said:
“Unfortunately, big football games often kick off particularly focused scams, including fake deals being posted online and criminals posing as reputable travel agents. We saw the impact this had last year for Liverpool fans.
“Fans should check via our website if the company is ATOL licensed and that their trip is financially protected by ATOL before booking, but also take other appropriate steps such as using a credit card, taking out travel insurance and being mindful of website and social media scams.
“We don’t want to see people score an own goal and lose their hard-earned money by falling foul of fraud. We work closely with Action Fraud, Trading Standards and the police to make sure action is taken where necessary to stop this from happening.”
Top tips to protect yourself:
Do your own research
Booking your trip via a company you haven’t used before? Do some research to check they’re legitimate. Read feedback from sources that you trust, such as consumer websites. You can find a company’s official website by searching for them on Google or another trusted search engine.
Look for the logo
If you’re booking a flight as part of a package holiday and want more information about ATOL protection or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit atol.org.
Book your holiday with a credit card if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected.
Book travel insurance
To cover cancellations, medical emergencies, stolen items, and missed transportation (depending on insurance coverage policy).
Secure your email
If your email is hacked, it could allow a criminal to access information about your holiday booking. Use three random words to create a strong password for your email that’s different to all your other passwords. If you’re offered 2-step verification to protect your email and social media accounts, always use it.
Watch out for hidden costs
For instance, extra airport and accommodation fees, including accommodation transfer and baggage allowance.
Check Government advice
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