The Civil Aviation Authority has warned consumers to beware of scam holiday websites displaying a false ‘Atol Protected’ logo.
The CAA is urging holiday bookers “to check, then double check” bookings are Atol protected.
The authority issued the warning today as part of National Scam Awareness Month.
It said: “A steady stream of duped holidaymakers have been in touch with the CAA and dozens more have contacted trading standards teams and police forces across the country.”
The CAA reported that the phoney travel sites look UK-based “but are typically operated from abroad”.
CAA consumer protection group director Richard Jackson said: “We are aware of a number of bogus websites advertising unusually cheap deals, operated from abroad and falsely claiming to have Atol protection.
“It is important customers look beyond the price and check and double check the travel company has Atol protection.
“Once you have confirmed this and paid, make sure you get an Atol Certificate.”
The CAA quoted figures recently released by the Association of Chief Police Officers suggesting UK consumers were defrauded of £3.7 million in online ticket scams, including flight tickets, last year.
Consumers are advised to check the Atol Protected logo is legitimate by noting whether it has the required reference number and checking that it belongs to a registered company on the CAA website.
The CAA suggests signs of a bogus site include “unusually cheap flights”, “poor contact details” and “no online payment facility”. It points out a web address ending in co.uk is no proof a company is based in the UK.
In a separate move, the CAA has published a list of European travel firms selling flight-inclusive or package holidays in the UK without Atol protection.
Travel firms based in Europe, but not in the UK, can offer packages for sale in Britain without an Atol so long as they provide consumer financial protection in compliance with the regime in the country of their location.
However, the CAA notes on its website: “Not all countries operate comprehensive protection schemes and in some cases financial protection will be more limited than Atol.”
It lists the following companies as “Firms that do not hold an Atol”: Airtickets, eDreams, Flightengine, Lowcostholidays and Travel24.
If booking with these companies, the CAA says: “We advise customers to check how they are protected before booking.”
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