Holiday scams costing consumers over £3500

A new Which? survey reveals consumers who are falling foul of a scam lose on average £1,488, with holiday scams tricking people out of the most money on average.

In the survey of Which? members, we find that holiday scams are costing victims on average £3,677.

In the past three years two-thirds (66%) of Which? members have been exposed to a scam, or they know someone who has. Seven in 10 (72%) people surveyed say that they’ve noticed an increase in scam correspondence in the last three years, and eight in 10 (79%) were concerned about a friend or family member being tricked.

Consumers are becoming more savvy about recognising certain scams – 94% in our survey that were exposed to phishing emails did not respond to them.  But we find that the scammers are becoming more sophisticated and finding new ways to get consumers’ personal details and money.

Online shopping scams are most likely to catch consumers out – three-quarters (73%) exposed to online shopping scams were tricked, losing £112 on average. Other common scams include document processing sites, with half (50%) of those exposed to the scam falling for it, premium texts (46%), holiday scams (43%) and investment scams (25%).

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said:

“It’s encouraging that consumers are becoming more vigilant about spotting common scams but as the scammers get more sophisticated, many people are still falling victim, with some being left severely out of pocket.

“Consumers should treat any unexpected correspondence with suspicion and be particularly wary of anything that sounds too good to be true.”

Which? has some top tips to avoid being scammed and information about how to report a scam.

Notes to editors:

To see a full copy of the article including detailed examples of sophisticated new scams please contact

1. We surveyed 5,200 Which? Members in June 2013. They told us about 458 incidences of scams where they had personally lost money. We worked out the average figure of £1,488 by dividing the total amount that was lost by the number of scams.

2. The Office of Fair Trading estimate that scams cost UK consumers £3.5bn per year.

3.  Phishing emails: pretend to be from companies like your bank so they can obtain your personal details.

Online shopping scams: typically involve goods failing to arrive or being less valuable or significantly different from the advertised description. Document processing sites: aren’t illegal, but they usually charge you more for a service, such as passport or EHIC applications, than you need to pay.



Percentage exposed to the scam who fell for it

Shopping scams


Document processing sites


Premium texts


Holiday scams


Investment scams


Property investment schemes


Bogus computer help


Other financial scam


Lottery/prize draw/competition


Pyramid scheme


5. Top tips to avoid being scammed, based on member feedback:

·         Never click on links in emails claiming to be from banks, PayPal etc. Visit the official website in a separate browser window and log into your account.

·         Nothing is that urgent you need to commit a financial transaction immediately or without seeking a second opinion.

·         Chances are you’re not the only person to receive a questionable email, so if you enter the heading of the email into a search engine then it may be flagged up as a scam.

·         If suspicious, never call the telephone numbers provided to check who they are- call the numbers you have listed for the company/organisation.

·         Wherever possible, report scams to the relevant authorities or organisations to ensure that they are aware of them.

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