Holidaymakers and festivalgoers urged to watch out for scams as lockdowns ease - here's how to avoid them

Bogus tickets are being advertised for events that have already sold out (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Criminals are poised to bombard people with ticketing, travel and health insurance scams as lockdown restrictions ease, a trade association has warned.

With many people looking to book holidays and tickets to concerts or festivals, fraudsters are advertising bogus tickets at low prices as well as for events that have already sold out, UK Finance said.

It warned people to watch out for scam emails, telephone calls, fake websites and posts on social media.

To stay safe, people are reminded to follow the advice of the Take Five To Stop Fraud campaign and pause to think before parting with their money or personal information.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Criminals have been capitalising on the pandemic to commit fraud, and the easing of lockdown restrictions provides another opportunity for them to target victims.

“As you start booking holidays and planning social activities, don’t let criminals take you for a ride.

“Follow the advice of the Take Five To Stop Fraud campaign and always visit websites you’re buying from by typing it in to the web browser – avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or text messages.

“Be wary of any requests to pay by bank transfer when buying or booking services online, and instead use a credit card or the secure payment options recommended by reputable websites.”

Tips for spotting and avoiding scams

Here are some tips from Take Five To Stop Fraud to spot and avoid scams:

– Criminals will offer “travel deals” to obtain your money and information. Websites may look genuine, but subtle changes in the URL can indicate they are fraudulent. Websites may use images of luxury villas and apartments that do not exist. These are offered for rent, often at discounted prices and require deposits which are never returned.

Where possible, book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company/agent that is a member of a trade body such as Abta or Atol.

– Always use the secure payment options recommended by reputable online travel providers and do not accept requests to pay separately via a bank transfer.

Where possible, use a credit card when booking holidays over £100 and up to £30,000 as you receive protection under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act.

– When travelling in the EU, people will be able to access emergency and medical care with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This card has replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Criminals are asking people for payment details, when the GHIC is free. They are advertising cards on fake websites that emulate the NHS. They claim to either fast-track or manage your application process before charging an up-front fee.

The GHIC can be obtained directly via the NHS website - https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/

– Criminals may also target people with fake “Covid certificates” and “passports”. Often posts include a link to a fraudulent website, used to steal personal and financial information.