According to a survey by insurance comparison site comparethemarket.com.au, over fifty percent of Aussie travellers have either faced a scam while travelling overseas (or know someone who has) and nearly two thirds of Aussies expect someone will try to scam them while abroad.
Case in point, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s recent scam activity report revealed Australians lost over $4 million in 2017 to upfront payment and advanced fee scams, which asked those targeted to send money to receive a ‘reward’, including a free or discounted holiday.
“If you’re feeling pressured into paying a deposit quickly, this is a tell-tale sign of a scam. Take note of the contact details of who contacted you to report the travel prize scam to the police and ACCC’S Scamwatch, to help apprehend the scammers and warn the community.”
And just because it’s winter, don’t think the scams have stopped. Ski rental scams, where visitors are provided faulty equipment and asked to pay for the damage in full, can also derail a holiday.
“Snow gear doesn’t come cheap, so make sure you check over any hired equipment for damage and record it in writing to ensure you’re not hit with incorrect fees,” a comparethemarket.com.au spokesperson said.
“It’s important to compare ski cover policies to get the best cover available for you, to protect against any repairs to your own or hired equipment plus save on any unused equipment or lessons due to sickness, injury or a lost ski pass.”
Comparethemarket.com.au’s checklist to avoid travel scams:
CHECK THE LISTING IS GENUINE
Is the website reputable? Don’t rely on the url name, which can be easily bought and used to misguide users. Instead check the images they have used to see if they’re fake copies. You can do this by saving any image from the website and selecting the camera icon in Google Image search to upload and search the photo. This will show where else the image is being used online and may point you to the legitimate company from which the scammers have taken the image.
QUALITY OF REVIEWS
Scammers won’t have a list of happy customers to sing their praises. Search the name of your travel accommodation, equipment hire or tour company in TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and across social media to see what people are saying online.
PAYMENT RED FLAGS
Are you being asked to transfer money to a bank that’s located in a different country to where you’re travelling to? Treat this as suspicious and look elsewhere if something doesn’t feel right.
If you’re wary of tourism companies, take careful note of their contact details. Search the business address and see if any other businesses are listed there. Check if a landline is listed, does the number match the area you’re visiting? If not, it’s probably best to walk away.