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25 Sep 2019

Thomas Cook refund calls and messages - is it a scam or the real deal?

Is it a genuine call or text, or is it a scam designed to part you with your money?

Scammers and banks are both reaching out to baffled Thomas Cook customers, making it almost impossible to judge whether the unexpected correspondence is genuine or not, Which? can reveal.

Following the collapse of Thomas Cook on 23 September, scammers are posing as refund agents, attempting to con already concerned and bewildered customers.

Scammers are asking people for credit card details, so they can refund troubled travellers.

Which? Consumer Rights Expert Adam French said 'We've heard worrying stories of criminals trying to scam people affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook, so while the messages being sent by some banks might be well-meaning, this flawed approach will only be adding to the confusion customers are facing.

'Our advice is to ignore unsolicited calls and texts, and avoid sharing your card or bank details. Anyone looking to claim back the cost of their flight through their debit or credit card provider should contact their bank directly themselves.'

The only way to get your Thomas Cook holiday refunded is directly through your bank, the travel agent you booked with, or the CAA's dedicated Thomas Cook refund website.

To apply for a refund, visit the CAA's dedicated Thomas Cook website.

To muddle an already confusing picture, some banks also appear to be proactively engaging with their customers through text message - to many this would seem unexpected, out of the blue correspondence.

Think you might have given a scammer your details?

While some customers appear grateful for the proactive communications, others are understandably reaching to banks to ask whether what they've received is genuine or a scam.

Even banks appear confused.

Is it a scam or the real deal?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a scam and a genuine message, as scammers use increasingly sophisticated methods and communications to con us.

It's likely to be a scam if an unexpected call or message asks you to do any of the following:

  • React urgently
  • Give personal information
  • Give bank details
  • Give debit/credit card details
  • Confirm passwords to your bank account

Is it the truth or a tall tale? Here are our seven ways to spot a scam

Here are our top tips for dealing with a suspicious call or message that arrived out of the blue:

  1. Don't react immediately - especially if the message is asking you to react urgently. Take five minutes to think carefully.
  2. Get another opinion - show it to a friend or family member. Does it look genuine to them?
  3. Ignore any message asking for your bank details - your bank will never ask you to share your bank details over text.
  4. Don't follow any links in the text - even if you think it's a genuine message from your bank, we recommend you don't follow any links or give any personal information to a text message you've received out of the blue.
  5. Contact your bank separately - contact your bank via their official website or official social media channel to ask if what you've received it genuine or not. Wait for at least five minutes to make a call to your bank if you received an unexpected phone call. And, ideally ring your bank from a different phone.

What's UK Finance's scam advice?

UK Finance's advice is to take five minutes when you receive a message out of the blue from someone claiming to be from your bank or a well-known company.

A UK Finance spokesperson said 'Criminals will try to use high-profile events, such as the news of Thomas Cook, as an opportunity to commit fraud and trick people into revealing personal or financial information.

'Banks are committed to tackling fraud and supporting customers impacted by Thomas Cook and we're working closely with our members to help them do so.'

Consumers are urged to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign:

  1. A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your Pin, full password or to move money to another account. Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
  2. Don't be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
  3. Always question uninvited approaches in case it's a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.

Thomas Cook collapses - what you need to know if you're on holiday or have one booked with the failed travel agent

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