"Don't Let Scammers Take You For A Ride"

Written by Oonagh Reidy     09/05/2013 | 11:08 | Category: INDUSTRY

A slew of nasty holiday scams doing the rounds, warns consumer watchdog

"DonA slew of winter holiday deals purporting to be 'cheap' are actually scams, ACCC warned today. 

Cheeky scammers are setting up fake online listings for rental properties to con consumers into parting with their money.

The winter holiday scams have already conned Aussies out of over $250,000, to date. 

You pay for your accommodation or get a "discount voucher", but the property either does not exist or, if it is real, the actual owner knows nothing about your booking.

Scammers are reportedly hacking into popular holiday rental or travel websites to access email inquiries sent by consumers, assuming the identity of the property owner and conning customers into making bogus bookings.

One victim of the scam, Claire*, had been making inquiries on travel websites and then received an email offering vouchers for a heavily discounted luxury resort in Bali - 10 nights in a five star Kuta resort for $1200. 

Temple of Doom: you may have paid for you accommodation, but it may not exist.
She paid for the voucher via international funds transfer and booked her flights, but when she arrived in Kuta the hotel had no knowledge of the voucher or her payment. 

This year alone, the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, has received over 100 travel-related scam complaints with unsuspecting consumers scammed out of over $250,000.  

"While you are making holiday plans, scammers are plotting to steal your hard-earned dollars with fake rental listings, fraudulent holiday vouchers and by hacking into travel websites," warns ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

"Our most commonly reported travel scam comes from holidaymakers finding that discount accommodation vouchers they paid for don't arrive, are fakes or simply can't be used as promised." 

"Follow these simple steps to ensure that your dream holiday doesn't turn into a nightmare."

"Before booking your holiday, do your homework by contacting the company directly using details that you have sourced independently through the phone book or an online search. 

"Often scammers have no arrangements with the accommodation providers to offer discount stays," Ms Rickard warned.