‘Holidaymakers at risk of fraudsters’ Brits warned of 2 key Covid scams to watch out for

Simon Calder on the impact of travel disruptions

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Although many countries have now lifted coronavirus restrictions for visitors, one travel expert is warning Britons of vaccine passport and passenger locator form scams which could see them left out of pocket. According to Ian Strafford-Taylor of FairFx, “confused” holidaymakers could see themselves handing over information or large sums of money in a bid to fulfil fake or unnecessary Covid requirements.

He said: “As the travel industry bounces back, Brits will be planning trips for the summer and beyond to make up for lost time.

“However, fraudsters may well take advantage of this pent-up demand and any opportunities to get hold of holidaymakers’ cash while we’re getting back into the swing of travel.”

Passenger locator form scams

Passenger locator forms are no longer a requirement to return to the UK, but they may still be in place when entering other countries.

Typically passenger locator forms do not incur a fee, yet some scammers are using this against unknowing travellers.

Fair FX urges Britons to research the documentation required upon entry at a destination and be aware of any scams trying to coax holidaymakers into purchasing passenger locator forms.

If the country you’re travelling to does require them, the documents are free of charge, however the consumer watchdog Which? previously caught unscrupulous companies charging travellers as much as £75.

The research found some scams even appeared higher up in search engine results than the official site did.

Mr Strafford-Taylor said: “Entry requirements vary between destinations, and with rules changing so frequently, there is room for confusion which puts holidaymakers at risk of fraudsters.

“Always refer back to trusted and reputable sources like Government and Embassy websites to check your information.”

For accurate and up-to-date information on travel requirements and links to official forms, visit gov.uk and search for your destination on the foreign travel advice page.

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Covid vaccine passport scams

Though proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result is a fairly common part of international travel in the post-pandemic world, it’s yet another thing scammers have been quick to exploit.

When vaccine passports were initially introduced for travel, several email scams made the rounds inviting people to apply for a digital vaccine passport.

However, the NHS website it linked to was fake.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warned that these emails were a phishing ploy to get people’s personal details and facilitate identity fraud.

Speaking last summer, when the scam was first detected, Katherine Hart, a lead officer at CTSI, said: “This is yet another example of unscrupulous fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets.

“We all hope that the summer brings some enjoyment after what has been a period of unprecedented challenges for everyone, but scammers want to ruin that.

“It is vital that we not only avoid these scams, but also report them to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland.”

Mr Strafford-Taylor added: “To avoid being caught out, never click on links in unsolicited emails.

“Look online to see if others have reported scams similar to this and if in doubt, do not give out your personal details, especially not any credit or debit card details.”

If you think you’ve received a phishing email, it should be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre at [email protected]

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