Tour operators are warning people booking ski holidays online to beware of fake sites listing properties to rent that they don’t actually own.
This can result in skiers arriving at the property they think they’ve booked but they find the owners have no knowledge of their booking and often there’s someone else already staying in the chalet.
The website chaletowners.com maintains a list of known scam sites and has almost a dozen new entries for 2019 so far.
One of those new on the list in August, CrownAlps.org, took a full page ad in a supplement within The Guardian last weekend:
A note in The Guardian says: “This is a distributed advertorial supplement created by APL Media Limited, which takes sole responsibility for its content.”
Common signs that you’re on a scam site include very low prices and no problems with availability at peak dates when in reality most properties are booked up. Scammers will also usually give reasons why they can’t accept payment by credit card and ask for a bank transfer, which it’s harder to get back.
“Please be aware — this year scam activity is stronger than ever before. Book only through official channels or directly with chalet owners,” advise ChaletOwners.com
“Our advice is for clients to book with ABTA members and to verify on the ABTA website that they are who they say,” adds Xavier Schouller of tour operator Peak Retreats. who adds further danger signs to look out for include:
“Additional signs include a funny url (eg a .org for a business); the prices too good to be true eg. chalets that would cost £20k+ per week in the world’s most sought after resorts for €1200; all properties are available for every single week of the season, even for half-term when everything similar on genuine websites is already fully booked; you can’t pay by credit card, only by bank transfer or PayPal and the phone number displayed is a mobile number rather than a landline phone.”