A travel accommodation website is listing properties for lease without the property owner’s permission, sparking fears that the site is run by scammers.
WA ScamNet is currently investigating the origins and purpose of Travel Advisor Pro (TAP) traveladvisorpro.net but due to early indications that it is a scam, a decision has been made to issue an early warning to protect consumers from potential monetary loss.
Here’s what we know so far…
- There are several properties that have been legitimately listed on the Australian-based Stayz website (stayz.com.au) at the request of the property owner that have subsequently appeared on Travel Advisor Pro without the owner’s permission.
- We have spoken to Stayz and they have been getting enquiries about the Travel Advisor Pro site and its legitimacy. Stayz was not previously aware of this site and is not affiliated with it.
- The Travel Advisor Pro (TAP) traveladvisorpro.net site appears to be based in the Netherlands even though it purports to be a UK-based business.
- The website is not secure and Consumer Protection’s computer scanning systems identity it as potential threat stating: “Domain reported and verified as serving malware. Identified as a malicious domain or URL.”
- Although no monetary loss has been reported so far, it is feared that some consumers may have booked accommodation through Travel Advisor Pro (TAP) traveladvisorpro.net and will not be able to stay at the property because the true owner does not know and has not received any money for the stay.
- Anyone who has booked a property through Travel Advisor Pro (TAP) traveladvisorpro.net should contact WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection by calling 1300 30 40 54 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- While this matter is looked into Consumer Protection recommends that this site is not used to book holiday accommodation. Not only could you be paying scammers without securing a stay at the property, the unsecure nature of the site should be a concern and could expose you to data theft.
- Property owners whose properties have been advertised on Travel Advisor Pro (TAP) traveladvisorpro.net without their permission should also get in touch.
Scam prevention tips
Booking accommodation with unfamiliar suppliers can be risky. Last year (2014) Consumer Protection ran the ‘Pack Some Peace of Mind’ campaign. Tips included:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Many scams will promote “free”, “complimentary” and “discounted” deals that may sound appealing, however are unrealistic. Find out if the deal is real, call the supplier, visit the website and search online for reviews. Always read the fine print.
- Use a reputable supplier: Just because the supplier has a professional-looking logo or website does not mean that the business is reputable. Do your research – talk to friends and family about their experiences. Look for traveller reviews online through independent websites and social media.
- The way you pay matters: Different means of payment offer different protections. Be wary of requests for cheques, bank or wire transfers. If booking online, choose secure payment methods, such as PayPal. If you pay with a credit card, you may be able to seek a chargeback if you don’t get what you pay for.
- Use secure websites: Always check that the website is secure before handing over personal information, especially your banking details. The website should feature ‘https’ or the lock symbol on its payments page. Remember that Australian-based businesses will generally have .au at the end of their website address.