Following warnings from the City of London Police earlier this month about a rise in fraud allegations related to villa bookings, the website claims it can now verify the owner of each listed property.
Pureholidays has instigated its own voluntary vetting service using GB’s ID3 technology for homeowners who will receive a “verified” badge once they have undergone a series of verification tests.
This came after the site commissioned its own online survey asking whether official identity checks on owners advertising on the website will give holidaymakers extra peace of mind.
It found 56% of the 1,396 respondents believed this was crucial when booking a holiday, a further 44% said it would offer peace of mind. Not a single respondent said it is not a concern.
Sean Collins, chief executive of pureholidayhomes.com, said: “Up until now companies have been treating the symptoms and not the actual cause when it comes to protecting consumers from online travel fraud, through additional services like travel insurance.
“Our aim is to take the risk away from the customer and tackle the route of the problem. Through the launch of our unique verification program we aim to substantially improve the minimum standards of our industry which is the fastest growing in the travel sector.
“By improving security for holidaymakers there are substantial opportunities to encourage customers who typically book a holiday through an agency to try the direct-from-owner space.”
The UK’s National Fraud Authority (NFA) has estimated annual fraud losses are in excess of £3.5 billion in the travel sector – some of which is identity fraud linked to the villa rental market.
Almost a quarter do not check if the website they are using is secure and 36% saidthey do not track their card payments after making a booking.