Sharing economy holiday scams tripled in 2016

Peter Terlato 9 December 2016 NEWS

holiday plans cancelled

Accommodation fraudsters ramp up rip-offs.

Australia's consumer watchdog has advised holidaymakers to be cautious when booking accommodation on travel websites such as Airbnb, to avoid scammers attempting to retrieve deposits and funds directly.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it has received more than 150 reports of scams on sharing economy platforms this year. This is triple the number of complaints last year.

There has been over $80,000 lost in dodgy deals in 2016, 23% more than the $65,000 pilfered last year.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard advises Aussies never to click on links within questionable emails and to not offer any reply. She encourages Aussies to check that the URL, website or email address is valid.

"When you go to book a break, scammers direct you away from the site and ask you to pay them directly using money orders or wire transfer services such as Western Union and MoneyGram," Rickard said.

"Some reports indicate that scammers create very convincing fake versions of the site which they can use to collect personal details and banking information. Be aware that the scammers may send 'confirmation' emails which appear to be official, using a logo or email address that imitates the real thing."

Websites such as Airbnb have secure payment systems in place, where operators act as a go-between for the traveller and property owner. Payments through this system offer safeguards for consumers, such as refunds and cancellations, and dispute resolutions for accommodation providers if there are problems.

Holidaymakers aren't the only targets. Aussies have been duped of millions in sports scams this year.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of suspicious matters relating to financial crime in Australia.

Scammers and fraudsters are prevalent in every area of finance, targeting the elderly, overseas immigrants and everyday taxpayers. Find out how to report a scam to the relevant authorities.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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