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South Africans ‘panic buying’ holiday deals must watch out for scams, warns travel body

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
Asata has warned South Africans to be wary of travel scams as the festive season kicks off.
Asata has warned South Africans to be wary of travel scams as the festive season kicks off.
Image: Supplied

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata) has warned holidaymakers to be aware of travel scams during the festive season.

Asata said with many travellers having their international travel plans cancelled or postponed, many are looking for last-minute deals for local holidays. 

The body said it is regularly contacted by consumers whose holiday plans have gone awry because they booked a holiday package that was “too good to be true”, they were scammed or defrauded by a travel provider.

“We see the level of complaints rise in the run-up to school holidays. With many travellers ‘panic buying’ to save their December break, it is more important than ever to be on the lookout for scamsters,” said Asata CEO Otto de Vries.

“Travel scammers work around the clock and often tend to find you first, typically revealing themselves around the main holiday seasons. Always trust your intuition, and when in doubt consult an Asata travel agent.”

Tips before making a holiday booking:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Alarm bells should sound if your holiday is a real steal. Travel tricksters tend to hook unsuspecting customers by offering too good to be true airfares and package holiday prices. Check with a reputable travel agent, tour operator or airline what the ‘normal’ price for the air ticket or holiday would be.
  • Make sure the logo is legit. Peruse the website, advertisement and travel documentation you are looking at and search for the Asata stamp of credibility. Association members comply with a code of conduct and constitution that requires them to abide by the law and prove they are legitimate travel businesses that protect the interests of their customers.
  • If you are seeing blurry, fuzzy logos or low-resolution images on print marketing collateral or travel documentation, be on the alert. Travel con artists will sometimes copy and paste extracts from genuine travel companies to make it seem as if their offer is legitimate. Ensure you are on a secure website and not a ‘spoof’ site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar to see the URL begins with https rather than http. Always check with Asata whether the company is a bona fide and accredited travel company.
  • If you’re pressured into paying via EFT only, this means you’re paying by cash. Safeguard yourself by paying with a credit card so your purchase is protected. If you pay by EFT, you will struggle to get your funds reimbursed if the supplier is found to have committed travel fraud.
  • If you’ve booked using a booking site, watch out for phishing emails. E-mails could be from scammers impersonating famous booking sites, claiming there was an issue with your booking. Never click on suspicious links to provide your banking details.
  • Before you work with an unfamiliar travel brand, try Googling it to see if there are any reviews or warnings about the company. If they’ve been involved in fraud before, you may find other customers have posted their experiences online.

TimesLIVE


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