Holiday fraud

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The internet has changed the way we book our holidays. With a multitude of online holiday and travel portals offering more choice at better prices, only few people turn to their local travel agent nowadays.

It’s a trend that scammers are well aware of. They pose as reputable landlords offering excellent service, but the only thing they’re after is fleecing unsuspecting people like you of large sums of money.

These scammers will rent out homes which simply do not exist, as you’ll find out upon arrival. Or they offer apartments that don’t quite match the images on the website. Or they simply break off contact after your first payment.

The Fraudhelpdesk would like to offer some tips to prevent you from falling victim to this type of fraud and having your dream holiday turn into a nightmare:

Travel agent
Make sure the travel agent is a member of a recognised trade association such as the ANVR, the SGR travel refund guarantee fund or, the sector organisation for online retailing in the Netherlands.

You can verify membership on the websites of these organisations. And you can turn to them for possible compensation.

Private rental
Of course, there are also reliable individuals around offering holiday homes or apartments. If you want to be sure that you’re not dealing with a scammer, please pay attention to the following:

General advice
Be wary if holiday homes are offered below the average rental price. If the offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Note the correspondence. Chances are it’s a scam if the email:

– is badly written
– is impersonal or overly polite
– has a compelling tone
– was sent from a country other than the holiday destination
– refers to an unknown third person or an impending relocation of the provider

– the identity of the person or company offering the accommodation: their name, address, telephone, email address, VAT number and official registration number should be clearly shown on the website. When in doubt, give them a call. Remember, people who have nothing to hide, will give you all the information you need.
– the address of your holiday home using Google Maps.

Rental offer
– The rental contract should give all the details of the accommodation offer
– The fees must be transparent and easy to understand
– Double-check the offer if they promise you a major speedy payment discount

Usually, you pay a deposit when you get the key. If you’re asked to pay the deposit in advance, then:
– it will be safer to transfer the money to a bank account
– check that the bank account is in the name of the landlord and that the landlord is from the country where your holiday home is located
– don’t use a credit card
– don’t pay money into a foreign bank account or by using wire transfer services like Western Union or MoneyGram

Report to the local police and to the police in your home town immediately when you find out that your holiday home does not exist. Order your bank to return the money if you have paid by direct debit.

The Fraudhelpdesk has published an article on holiday booking fraud before. The foundation also filed charges against a fraudulent travel agency. Do you have any questions? Then please contact us at 088-7867372 – dial (+31) 88-7867372 from outside the Netherlands, or use or the report form.