People must beware of scammers targeting vulnerable holidaymakers in the fallout of the Thomas Cook collapse, authorities have said.
Anti-fraud campaigners and MPs warn that scammers have been calling Britons and offering refunds to people who have lost money from the cancellation of Thomas Cook flights and holiday packages.
Labour MP Paula Sherriff said one of her constituents had been approached by a scam company posing as the collapsed travel business, in an attempt to gain access to her credit card details.
The Dewsbury MP added: “I am aware of a small number of others, who have been contacted by a person purporting to be someone responsible for refunds on behalf of the Thomas Cook group, asking for their details.”
People took to social media after they also received cold calls from fraudsters.
One Twitter user said: “Thomas Cook refund agents just rang.
“If I would give my bank account details they will arrange immediate refund of my holiday.
“Only problem is I have not booked a Thomas Cook holiday.
“Some people will stop at nothing in their scam attempts.”
Another Facebook user said: “Just had a phone call from 'Thomas Cook refund agent' going to give me a refund on the holiday I have purchased (no I haven't) just need my card details and three digit number on back to refund me.
“This is disgusting... People have lost their jobs and livelihoods and people are already scamming.”
The charity Which? has given consumers advice on what to do if people do receive a call from a potential scammer.
Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “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 company also tweeted out signs of a Thomas Cook scam.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps branded the fraudulent activity “absolutely disgusting”, adding that the Government has put messages out warning people to be aware of any scams.
Mr Shapps said: “I was made aware of this yesterday. It’s absolutely disgusting that that can happen at this time.
“We’ve put messages back through the OWL (Online Watch Link) system… which is the system that emails people, neighbourhood watch, to be on the lookout for these sort of scams.
“I mean obviously for someone that didn’t even have a holiday booked it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Mr Shapps also defended the Government’s decision not to bail out the failing company, saying it risked throwing “good money away after bad”.
He told MPs: “I have seen it suggested in the papers that the Government should have avoided the collapse with a bailout of up to £250 million.
“Given the perilous state of the business, including the company’s own reported £1.5 billion half-year loss reported in May followed by a further profit warning in November, this was simply not the case, with no guarantee that an injection would have secured the future of the company.
“Our concern was we would put £250 million at risk and thrown away good money after bad then still have to pay the cost of this repatriation.”
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had completed more than 130 flights on Monday and Tuesday, returning almost 30,000 people back to the UK, with 95% flying back on the day of their original Thomas Cook flight.
It added that it was working “around the clock” to bring an estimated 120,000 passengers back to the UK, with 70 flights with seats for 16,500 people planned for Wednesday.