The public is being warned to be careful about staycation scams, as more people holiday in Ireland this year.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland has set up a fraud awareness initiative known as FraudSMART.

It says there is an increased risk of hoaxes taking place as more people plan to holiday at home this year due to current Covid-19 travel restrictions and recommendations.

It is urging consumers to be cautious when it comes to booking holidays, with the body warning that the increased demand for domestic breaks is also an opportunity for criminals.

In June, the number of people searching for holiday homes in Ireland was up 112% on the same time last year.

Fáilte Ireland estimates that 60% of consumers are planning a break in Ireland in the next six months.

FraudSMART says the public should be aware of a number of potential scams, including copycat websites.

Keith Gross, Head of Financial Crime & Security at the BPFI, said: "The types of scams we anticipate include copycat websites offering holiday accommodation which will look almost identical to the legitimate site.

"We are also warning consumers to be on the lookout for fake emails and ads on social media offering holiday deals which appear to be offering bargain prices but are in reality too good to true.

"Today we are warning consumers to take extra caution when they are booking domestic holidays and are outlining the key advice holidaymakers should follow to avoid getting caught out and risk losing their hard earned cash along with their holiday.

"This includes simple checks and tips, such as ensuring any website that you use to book a holiday is genuine, never clicking through to a seller's website via an email link or social media advert and never forgetting that if an offer looks too good to be true, it usually is."

Some tips and checks when booking a staycation:

  • Thoroughly research any online offer.
  • Check website/web address is genuine and only purchase through an official website.
  • Avoid cheap on-line deals or 'super deals' you'll find on social media ads.
  • Check out whether the website offering the deal has been reviewed online across different trusted sources.
  • Use a reputable company and make sure the web address for the reputable company is legitimate.
  • Independently verify the property if possible by using Google maps/Street view.
  • If renting private/self-catering accommodation, call the owner or agent directly to ensure that it is a real listing
  • Pay particular attention to the 'Terms and Conditions' (T&C's) and always read the small print.

Reporting by Kate Carolan