I was chatting about this on Sky Sunrise this morning as Citizens Advice say more of us are getting ripped off this way with a 17% increase in people caught out with these scams.
So what are ‘Phantom Goods’? Yes you’ve guessed it; just as the name suggests; it’s when you ‘buy’ something online that doesn’t exist or if it does; it’s fake and the average loss is around £1,000 a time.
Booking holiday flights that don’t exist is one of the big ones so here’s how to avoid getting caught out.
First up always check the company’s ATOL licence. By law every UK travel company selling flights or a flight based holidays must have an ATOL licence. Stands for Air Transport Organiser’s Licence and means you’re protected if the company goes bust or you don’t get your flight or trip.
The ATOL number should always be on the company’s website but don’t take their word for it! Jot down the number and check it back with the Civil Aviation Authority who run the scheme, to ensure it’s genuine.
Never ever pay for flights, holidays or accommodation by bank transfer. Protect yourself paying by credit or debit card or PayPal. All offer protection if things go wrong, but fraudsters want your cash so they’ll come up with heaps of rubbish reasons why they need a bank transfer or payment by Western Union.
Maybe they’ll tell you their systems are down? Maybe they’ll claim it’s ‘easier’ if you pay this way. All rubbish reasons and don’t believe them as paying by bank transfer or Western Union is just like handing a pile of cash to a stranger in the street so forget it.