Beware of cold call scammers pretending to be Qantas and Virgin, says ACCC

Scammers have been calling home and businesses leaving fraudulent messages claiming to be from Qantas or Virgin and telling the receiver they have won a “travel prize” towards their next vacay.

However, in order to redeem the prize, consumers have to reveal their credit card details for processing, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

This year alone, the ACCC received 1,650 complaints about travel scams, with $100,000 reported lost and most complainants were contacted by phone.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard warned Aussies to watch out for these fraudsters cold calling, which announce the consumer has won a travel prize, ranging from discount accommodation vouchers to whole holiday packages. “To redeem the prize, you will be asked to provide personal information such as your credit card and drivers’ licence details before they can send it to you.”

“While you are making plans for a hard-earned break, scammers are plotting to steal your hard-earned dollars. Simply searching online for a holiday can alert scammers that you are a potential target and they won’t hesitate to approach you with travel vouchers or offers that always turn out to be too good to be true," said Rickard.

The ACCC advised consumers:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Find out if the offer is the real deal – call the holiday accommodation provider directly, research the “business” that you’re dealing with, and search online for reviews.

2. Know who you’re dealing with. Don’t rely on contact details provided by the person – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.

3. Book through an accredited agent. If using a travel agent, find out if they are accredited through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ ATAS scheme.

4. Be wary of requests for cheques, bank or wire transfers. 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.

5. If you think you’ve been scammed, report it. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

If you’re heading overseas soon don’t forget to organise your travel insurance before you leave Australia and search the market for a competitive travel money deal.