Brits at risk of holiday scams as they scramble for cheap deals

Holiday-makers could be handing their hard-earned money directly to cybercriminals. Photo: Tim Goode/PA
Holiday-makers could be handing their hard-earned money directly to cybercriminals. Photo: Tim Goode/PA

Brits are at risk of falling for holiday scams as they prioritise cheap deals over security in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, experts have warned.

Since blanket restrictions on overseas travel relaxed on 6 July, holiday bookings have “exploded”, with some firms reporting increases of up to 80%.

But holiday-makers may not be exercising enough caution and diligence, as one in five don’t bother checking the authenticity of holiday providers’ websites before clicking “buy”, a survey of 2,000 by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky found.

What’s more, less than a quarter (23%) said they actually “prioritise” security when booking a holiday — meaning more than three quarters could be handing their money and personal information over to cybercriminals.

READ MORE: The latest money scams you should be aware of

This is especially true as nearly three quarters (73%) of Brits now book all of their holidays online, the survey found.

With the majority of Brits spending most of their time at home since the UK went into lockdown on 23 March, a third (35%) of respondents said they are “desperate” to get away for the summer — whether it’s abroad or within the UK.

On top of this, a quarter (24%) have already booked or planned a holiday for 2021, the survey found.

And while over half (51%) of Brits believe they would never fall for a scam, their complacency and eagerness for a good deal, could make them easy prey for “opportunistic” scammers, the cybersecurity firm warned.

READ MORE: ‘Staycations’ costing a third of Brits more than a holiday abroad

Scams were up 66% in the first six months of 2020, and are likely to continue rising, a separate research shows.

“It is understandable that price influences people when they are deciding which holiday providers to place bookings with, but cheap deals must not come at the cost of security,” said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky.

“Scammers are clever and opportunistic and as bookings continue to increase, they will be looking to cash in on unsuspecting sun-seekers.

“In spite of the inevitable desperation to book an escape following months of strict lockdown restrictions, we would advise everyone to remember good cybersecurity practices and check website authenticity before hitting buy. It may be the holiday season for many Brits, but it’s always hunting season for scammers. If something seems too good to be true, there’s a chance it’s exactly that.”

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