Travel prize scams are attempts to trick you into parting with your money to claim a ‘reward’ such as a free or discounted holiday.
How this scam works
You receive a notification out of the blue, by phone, text, email or post, claiming that you have won a prize in the form of vouchers, often worth $2000 or $3000 for a discounted holiday. You will still need to pay something for the holiday.
The scammer presents you with an amazing offer for a heavily discounted accommodation or holiday package to a popular destination. Other scams offer holidays with tickets to theme parks or cruises at greatly discounted rates. However, in reality the package or the prize doesn’t exist.
Travel prize scams may eventuate after you have been searching for a holiday online and sign up to receive further information. Alternatively, you participate in an online survey and are subsequently notified that you have won a holiday or vouchers. When you go to claim your prize, you are told that you first need to buy more travel vouchers.
If you decide to take up this offer, you will be asked to provide your credit card and licence details before they can send you the ‘prize’. If you hand over your credit card details, the scammer will quickly use these to take money from your bank account. They may also use your personal details to commit some other form of identity crime.
The promised prize or vouchers will either never arrive, or if they do, will be dishonoured when you try to redeem them. Sometimes the scammers will provide you with tickets and an itinerary but when the time to travel arrives, the tickets are useless and the business cannot be contacted.
Real life story
You are contacted by someone claiming that you won a prize related to travel or accommodation in a competition you never entered.
In order to receive the holiday you still need to pay a discounted amount. Payment is often requested through cheques, bank or money transfers.
- The supplier making the offer does not provide any contact details beyond an email or Post Office box.
Scammers may claim to be affiliated with well-known and reputable businesses, such as airlines or hotel chains, to try and convince you that they’re the real deal.
If you are considering buying a holiday package through a third party, find out if the offer is the real deal. Call the holiday accommodation provider directly to verify the deal using contact details you’ve sourced independently.
- Call the holiday accommodation provider directly to verify the deal using contact details sourced independently.
- Research the ‘business’ that you’re dealing with. Search online for reviews. Try searching using the business name or contact details provided to you.
Book through an accredited agent or reputable website to make sure you get legitimate accommodation.
- Find accredited travel agents at www.atas.com.au – the website administered by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ ATAS. ATAS-accredited agents must abide by a code of conduct and have dispute resolution procedures in place.
Be cautious about the requested method of payment: different means of payment offer different protections. Be wary of requests for cheques, bank or wire transfers when booking travel as these are not typically used for secure consumer payments.
- If booking online, choose secure payment methods. If you pay with a credit card, you may be able to seek a chargeback if you don’t get what you pay for.
Have you been scammed?
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screenshot.
We also provide guidance on protecting yourself from scams and where to get help.
Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.