Irish People Are Being Warned About Staycation Scams – Here's What You Need To Know

A warning has been issued by the Banking and Payments Federation over fraudsters who are taking advantage of the increased demand for Irish holidays due to COVID-19 by setting up false websites to scam holidaymakers.

The general public is being warned about scams linked with Irish holiday homes as more people holiday in Ireland this year.

Fake websites that look almost identical to legitimate accommodation websites have been set up to secure bookings and payments from customers without providing a home. 

Those holidaying in the country this summer have also been warned about the dangers of fake emails and ads on social media offering what appear to be competitive holiday deals, but which are “too good to be true”.

To combat this, the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) has set up a fraud awareness initiative known as FraudSMART.

It is urging consumers to be cautious when it comes booking holidays, with the body warning that the increased demand for domestic breaks is also an opportunity for criminals.

"The types of scams we anticipate include copycat websites offering holiday accommodation which will look almost identical to the legitimate site," said Keith Gross, Head of Financial Crime & Security, BPFI.

"We are also warning consumers to be on the lookout for fake emails and ads on social media offering holiday deals which appear to be offering bargain prices but are in reality too good to true.

"Today we are warning consumers to take extra caution when they are booking domestic holidays and are outlining the key advice holidaymakers should follow to avoid getting caught out and risk losing their hard-earned cash along with their holiday.

"This includes simple checks and tips, such as ensuring any website that you use to book a holiday is genuine, never clicking through to a sellers website via an email link or social media advert and never forgetting that if an offer looks too good to be true it usually is."

Customers should also call the private or self-catering accommodation directly to ensure that it is a real listing, he advised.

“Be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer. Paying by direct bank transfer means your money will be difficult to trace in the event of something going wrong and if it is a scam, it will be very difficult to get your money back,” he added.

The BPFI recommends the following checklist when booking an Irish holiday this summer:

  • Thoroughly research any offer found online
  • Check the URL is genuine (Google it) and only purchase through an official website
  • Avoid cheap on-line deals you'll find on social media ads
  • Check out whether the website offering the deal has been reviewed online across different trusted sources
  • Use a reputable company and make sure the web address for the reputable company is legitimate
  • Independently verify the property if possible by using Google maps/Street view
  • If renting private/self-catering accommodation, call the owner or agent directly to ensure that it is a real listing
  • Pay particular attention to the 'Terms and Conditions' and always read the small print

Main image by @imaanhammam

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