British holidaymakers warned of passport renewal scam

Britons have been warned to be on guard against scammers targetting people booking holidays and renewing their passports.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said fraudsters are using social media ads and delays in the Passport Office to “steal money” and “ take advantage of uncertainty”.

Earlier this month MPs said passport applicants had been let down by “unacceptable delays”.

The Passport Office received a record number of applications coming out of Covid. But despite processing records numbers of passports hundreds of thousands of customers did not get their document on time.

Workers striking in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions have exacerbated problems within the Passport Office.

As well as passports, thieves are also using increasingly sophisticated techniques to trick people into booking holidays.

“Lots of people are preparing to go away at the moment and, unfortunately, there are a lot of adverts on social media advertising cottages and hotels at home and abroad with incredible pictures and fantastic prices,” Katherine Har, lead CTSI lead officer, said.

“These bogus adverts are designed to steal our money, leaving us disappointed and without a holiday.”

She added: “As with any purchase, do your research, only shop with reputable companies, and make sure you are 100 per cent sure who you are dealing with and what you are getting before you part with any money.”

Scammers targetting Britons booking holidays

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

CTSI chief executive John Herriman added: “As always, scammers are quick to leap on any opportunity to take advantage of uncertainty and upheaval.

“The exploitation of delays brought about by Passport Office strikes are just the latest example of scammers preying on people’s vulnerability.”

He added: “People work hard and save all year round for their holidays – scammers know this, but they don’t care. We can all fight back, though, by being alert, by following a few simple guidelines, and spreading the word about the harm these scams can cause.”

The CTI urges the public to:

  • Check the URL and security of any website you are booking a holiday through
  • Always look at independent reviews, not just reviews on a website or advert itself
  • Do your research and contact the owners of a holiday cottage before making a booking
  • Pay using a protected payment method such as a credit card, debit card or PayPal’s Buyer Protection service

For consumer advice, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133

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