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  1. Get Safe Online has joined forces with ABTA and The City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to warn the general public about the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud. Findings from a report compiled by the NFIB reveal the scale of the crime and expose common tactics used by fraudsters who stole an estimated £7million from unsuspecting holidaymakers and other travellers in 2013. The 2014 report reveals that over a 12 month, period over 4500 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported. The most common types relate to: - Holiday accommodation – According to the report almost a third (30%) of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were [problem]med by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, with some arriving at their destination to discover they had nowhere to stay. - Airline tickets – where a customer believes they are booking a flight and receives a fake ticket or pays for a ticket that never turns up. This is the most second most common type of booking fraud, accounting for 21% of holiday booking fraud reported to the police in 2013. Average losses are more than £1000 per victim, with flights to West Africa a particular target. - Package holidays – particularly group, sports and religious packages. The report highlights the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and major sporting events such as the Ryder Cup as particular targets for fraudsters. https://www.getsafeonline.org/news/warning-on-rising-holiday-booking-fraud/
  2. One in five households are now in debt to their energy supplier, according to comparison website uSwitch Soaring energy costs and an exceptionally cold winter have squeezed family finances to the extent that 20% of households are now in debt to their energy supplier, according to comparison website uSwitch. USwitch said that if the figures from its survey were extrapolated across the UK, it would mean a total of 5 million households were behind with their bills, compared with 4 million a year ago, when 14% said they owed money. The collective debt adds up to £637m – £159m more than a year ago when the average outstanding bill reported by the 2,000 people surveyed by the website had fallen, by just over £8 to £123, but 41% of those who were in debt said they owed more than in April 2012 and just 9% said they owed less. One in 10 said they planned to clear the debt by setting up a repayment plan with their supplier, while 2% said they planned to move onto a prepayment meter – typically the most expensive way to pay for energy. With the average household bill now almost £100 higher than in April 2012, at £1,353, and March setting records for freezing temperatures, uSwitch said the average amount owed could shoot up again. Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said the figures were "a clear indication of the pressure people are coming under just to meet the cost of their basic bills". "The fact that a million more households have fallen behind in the last year so that over five million are now in debt to suppliers tells us everything we need to know about the impact of sky-high energy prices." The debt advice charity StepChange said it had seen a steep rise in the proportion of clients who had fallen into arrears with energy companies in recent years. In 2009, 6.8% of those seeking advice owed money on fuel bills, with the typical sum standing at £537. By the first quarter of 2012, the proportion had grown to 11% and the average level of arrears to £664. "The increasing number of people falling into arrears with their energy bills is indicative of how the continuing squeeze on household budgets is leaving more and more people struggling to meet the basic cost of living," said a spokesman for StepChange. "We would urge energy firms to show forbearance and understanding at this time when many consumers are financially vulnerable." Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/apr/09/households-debt-energy-supplier-uswitch
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