It's every holidaymaker's worst nightmare - your hard-earned savings ending up in the hands of a fraudster! With scam villa holiday websites on the rise, it's more important than ever to book with a trusted company.
Not sure where to start? Fear not, there's plenty you can do to protect yourself and your money. We've put together a handy guide for booking safe.
Book with a holiday company that is a member of ABTA and ATOL.
In short, ATOL (or Air Transport Organisers Licence, to give it its full name) protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad should the travel company go bust. This protection applies when you've booked a package - accommodation with flights. To be ATOL certified we've been vetted and approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, who are there to step in to recover your money or get you home should the worst happen.
ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) bonding protects you when booking a holiday without flights, so your accommodation is covered.
Top tip - some websites will show ABTA and ATOL logos without having the appropriate licences. It's easy to double check the company is a member on the ABTA and ATOL websites.
How do you know the website you're using is secure? This is where you'll be entering your personal details and payment information, so it's important to get it right.
Many unlucky holidaymakers have been caught out by searching for villa holidays online, browsing beautiful villa pictures that seem genuine, only to enter their card details and send their money straight to a criminal's bank account.
Can you spot HTTPS at the beginning of the website URL? That's a big thumbs up. It's the 's' on the end that's important – it stands for 'secure' and means that the website is safe to use.
Top tip – genuine villa holiday companies will not ask for a bank transfer!
Reading customer travel reviews and researching the company puts you in the know. It's even more reassuring when this feedback comes from genuine customers – people who've tried and tested the brand.
That's why we work with the independent review service Reevoo. Every time you read feedback on our website, it comes from genuine James Villa Holidays customers. We don't get to pick and choose which travel reviews appear – what you see is what you get!
Top tip – the villa may have real reviews on Trip Advisor, but it doesn't mean the website selling the holiday is genuine! Research reviews for the company, not just the accommodation.
Many scam villa websites copy reputable brands, like ours.
The logo, pictures, and even a variation of the website URL could have been taken by the scammers and used on their fake websites. They may look trustworthy, but don't confuse them with real holiday companies.
Whilst searching for your holiday if you come across a website that you're not familiar with, look out for these red flags:
Fake websites can be very convincing, even having contact details and made up reviews.
Top tip – If in any doubt, don't part with your money. Once the fraudsters have your payment, it can be really difficult to get any money back – even when paying on a credit card.