Holiday booking scams

Scams involving holiday, flights and hotel bookings are on the rise. According to new data from UK Finance, a staggering £12.3 million was lost to holiday fraud last year.

How holiday booking fraud works

Fraudsters utilise various methods to perpetrate holiday booking scams:

  • Fake websites: Scammers create counterfeit holiday websites, mimicking legitimate companies, often fabricating ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protection numbers, something all credible holiday vendors use. These sites are designed to steal personal information, including passport and card details. Be wary when clicking into advertisements found on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, they can often be malicious.
  • Phishing emails, texts and calls: Fraudsters send fake reference and booking emails or make phone calls pretending to be booking agents from reputable companies. They may convincingly imitate genuine communications to extract sensitive information.
  • Payment diversions: Fraudsters attempt to divert communication away from genuine holiday websites and coerce victims into making payments via bank transfer to individuals rather than to legitimate companies.

What to look out for

Stay vigilant for the following warning signs to avoid falling victim to holiday booking scams:

  • Too good to be true deals: Be cautious of deals that seem unbelievably cheap and free holiday competitions, especially those received through social media, text message, or email.
  • Requests for payment: Exercise caution if asked to make payments directly from your booking app or platform, particularly if prompted by unsolicited messages.
  • Accurate booking information: Scammers often possess detailed booking information, making it challenging to discern fraudulent communications from genuine ones.

How to stay safe

  • Check your protections: Ensure your package holiday is ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) protected, and check if the holiday advertiser is a member of ABTA, The Travel Association.
  • Is it the correct URL? Double-check the URL on any websites you visit. Scammers often set up copycat sites with slightly different URLs, making them difficult to spot.
  • Look up when the company or site was registered: You can check when a site was registered on Be wary of newly registered or internationally registered sites. You can also check to see if a company really exists on Companies House.
  • Don’t pay by bank transfer: Refrain from making payments via bank transfer, as fraudsters prefer this method due to its traceability challenges.
  • Check multiple review sites: Check reviews on several websites, such as Trustpilot, especially if dealing with lesser-known companies. Thorough research can help identify potential scams.


If you are ever unsure of the legitimacy of any: link, website, company, advert, email or text you come across, please feel free to ask us to take a look by sending it to or by asking your private banking team or Relationship Manager to forward it to us.

If you think you have been a victim of this type of scam, please speak to your private banking team or Relationship Manager in the first instance. You can also contact the Private Bank on +44 (0) 1933 543 600 or the Racing Bank on +44 (0) 1933 543 543.