Fraudsters are poised to target the British public with ticketing, travel and health insurance scams as consumers look to book in much-needed social activities as lockdown restrictions ease, warns UK Finance. The scam alert comes as the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign publishes guidance below on how consumers can protect themselves in the lead-up to further easing of lockdown restrictions from 17 May.

With many people booking holidays and tickets to concerts and summer festivals, criminals are staying one step ahead by advertising holidays and tickets at low prices or for sold out events, illegally profiting from consumers who are looking for good deals or wanting to attend fully booked events. In some instances, scammers are charging people for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is available free of charge, or advertising fake ‘vaccine certificates’ online.

Experts at impersonating trusted organisations such as travel agencies and hospitality firms, these fraudsters are using a range of sophisticated methods to approach their victims, including scam emails, telephone calls, fake websites and posts on social media. To stay safe when booking holidays and tickets, people are reminded to always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information in case it’s a scam.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, commented:

“Criminals have been capitalising on the pandemic to commit fraud, and the easing of lockdown restrictions provides another opportunity for them to target victims. 

“As you start booking holidays and planning social activities, don’t let criminals take you for a ride. Follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and always visit websites you’re buying from by typing it in to the web browser – avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or text messages. Be wary of any requests to pay by bank transfer when buying or booking services online, and instead use a credit card or the secure payment options recommended by reputable websites.”

Take Five to Stop Fraud advice

Holiday scams

Travel deal scams

Criminals will set up fake websites offering ‘travel deals’ which are used to obtain your money and information. Websites may look similar to the genuine organisation’s but subtle changes in the URL can indicate that it’s fraudulent. These websites may also seem professional and convincing, using images of luxury villas and apartments that don’t exist to convince victims they’re trusted and genuine. These are offered for rent, often at discounted prices and require a deposit to be made which is never returned.

Always remember:

  • Be suspicious of any “too good to be true” offers or prices – if it’s at a rock bottom price ask yourself why.
  • Where possible, book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company/agent that is a member of a trade body such as ABTA or ATOL. If you do decide to book independently, establish if you’re dealing with the property owner or a letting agent or via the local tourist information desk, and verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps.
  • Always access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it in to the web browser and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or social media posts. The website should use the padlock symbol to indicate that the site is secure.
  • Always use the secure payment options recommended by reputable online travel providers and don’t accept requests to pay separately via a bank transfer.
  • Where possible, use a credit card when booking holidays over £100 and up to £30,000 as you receive protection under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act.

Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) scams

When travelling in the EU, people can access emergency and medical care with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This card has replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) however criminals are capitalising on this new card to commit fraud, asking victims for payment details when the GHIC is free. They are advertising these cards on fake websites that look like that of the NHS. The sites claim to either fast-track or manage your application process before charging you an up-front fee.

Always remember:

  • The GHIC, which replaces the European Health Insurance Card, is FREE to use and can only be obtained directly via the NHS website:
  • You also don’t need to apply for a GHIC until your current EHIC expires.
  • You can report scam ads appearing in paid-for space online by visiting the Advertising Standard Authority’s website where you can complete their quick reporting form.
  • Always question uninvited approaches and contact organisations directly to confirm requests using a known email or phone number.
  • Only give out your personal or financial information to services you have consented to and organisations you are expecting to be contacted by.

Vaccine certificate scams  

The UK government is currently looking into the use of vaccine certificates or a passport for people to use once restrictions lift, which shows whether people have been vaccinated, have recently tested negative or have natural immunity after being ill with Covid. As we await the government’s announcement, criminals will be using the opportunity to target people with fake Covid certificates and passports. They may defraud people via phishing emails, ‘spoofed’ calls, social media posts, fake apps or adverts claiming to be offering Covid certificates or passports. Often posts include a link leading to a fraudulent website used to steal personal and financial information in order for the criminal to commit fraud.

Always remember:

  • Don’t click on links or attachments in social media posts or emails.
  • Question uninvited approaches and contact organisations directly to confirm requests using a known email or phone number.
  • Only give out your personal or financial information to services you have consented to and organisations you are expecting to be contacted by.

Ticketing scams  

As events, concerts, festivals and theatre shows reopen from 17 May, criminals will be on the look out to take advantage of people booking these events. Criminals either set up fake websites or social media profiles to sell tickets that are either fraudulent or don’t exist. Websites may even look similar to the genuine organisation’s one but subtle changes in the URL can indicate that it’s fraudulent. Make sure you book tickets directly through official sellers who are members of the self-regulatory body STAR, as anything else could be a scam.

Always remember:

  • Use the secure payment method recommended by reputable online retailers and auction sites.
  • Always access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it into your web browser and be wary of clicking on links in unsolicited emails or social media posts.
  • Criminals are experts at impersonating people and trusted organisations so always make sure to research who you are buying tickets from and be wary of celebrity-endorsements in case it’s a scam.
  • Be suspicious of any “too good to be true” offers or prices and always be wary of any requests to pay by bank transfer when buying tickets online or on social media.

For more information please call the UK Finance press office on 020 7416 6750 or email

Notes to editors

1. UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 250 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.

2. More advice on how customers can protect themselves from scams is available from the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign.

3. The banking and finance industry is protecting the public from fraud by:

  • Investing in advanced security systems to protect customers from fraud, including real-time transaction analysis. The industry prevented £1.6 billion of unauthorised fraud in 2020, equivalent to £6.73 in every £10 of attempted unauthorised fraud being stopped.
  • Working with the government and law enforcement to establish clear strategic priorities, improve accountability and coordination through the Economic Crime Strategic Board, jointly chaired by the Home Secretary and the Chancellor. This includes supporting the Economic Crime Plan, to harness the combined capabilities of the public and private sectors to make the UK a leader in the global fight against economic crime. We are also working with the Government, law enforcement and regulators to develop a more advanced Fraud Action Plan. This will need to include a focus on prevention and tackling money laundering as well as the law enforcement response.
  • Sharing intelligence on emerging threats with law enforcement, government departments and regulators through the National Economic Crime Centre. This drives down serious organised economic crime, protecting the public and safeguarding the prosperity and reputation of the UK as a financial centre.
  • Working with law enforcement to stop fraud through initiatives like the Banking Protocol, a scheme which allows bank branch staff to alert the police when they think a customer is being scammed. This has prevented a total of £142 million of fraud and resulted in 843 arrests since introduced in 2016. It is currently being expanded to telephone and online banking, which has been particularly important for vulnerable customers who have been unable to visit their local branch as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
  •  Fully funding a specialist police unit, the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), which tackles the organised criminal groups responsible for financial fraud and scams.  In 2020, the unit prevented almost £20 million of fraud, disrupted 26 organised crime groups (OCGs), arrested 122 suspected criminals, and secured 54 convictions.
    Working with text message providers and law enforcement to block scam text messages including those exploiting the Covid-19 crisis. 1087 unauthorised sender IDs are currently being blocked to prevent them being used to send scam text messages mimicking trusted organisations, including over 70 related to Covid-19.
  • Working with Ofcom to crack down on number spoofing, which has prevented criminals from spoofing the phone numbers of trusted organisations, including HMRC.
  • Working with Pay.UK to implement Confirmation of Payee, an account name checking service that helps prevent authorised push payment scams. The measure was implemented by the UK’s six largest banking groups in  June 2020 and has since expanded to cover over a dozen payment providers. More providers are expected to sign up in 2021.
    Helping customers stay safe from fraud and spot the signs of a scam through the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. 30 major banks and building societies have signed up to the new Take Five Charter, bringing the industry together to give people simple and consistent fraud awareness advice.
  • Developing a secure mechanism to enable firms to share information about confirmed APP frauds with a view to enhancing the industry’s ability to freeze and repatriate funds.

Comments are closed.

Scam warning: Criminals may purport to be from Take Five, using our official branding on websites, social media posts, literature, on the phone or by text. Take Five doesn’t provide endorsement or approval for any products/services and would never call or text anyone.