In view to bring in awareness, mFilterIt, a global fraud detection and prevention company, has released its study of top frauds that are happening in travel industry and how travellers should be aware to avoid these online fraudulent activities.
With the offset of the pandemic, in last few months online travel bookings have seen a huge upsurge with majority of the travellers planning their trips beforehand for summer travel and the foreign countries as international travel resumed to normal for many nations. This has ultimately led to massive transactions across digital travel and tourism platforms, which also increases the risk of customers being duped online in travel related frauds, hampering the travellers experience and ruining their holidays.
According to a TransUnion, the percentage of suspected digital fraud attempts against the travel and leisure industry increased 68.4% around the globe. These frauds can happen in multiple forms where the customer is scammed in various ways. In India as well, same trends are being witnessed.
mFilterIt identified the key fraud categories in travel and tourism sector.
Chargeback Frauds & Fake/Stolen Credit Cards:
A fraud attack typically begins with obtaining consumer’s credit card numbers and identifying information. Airline’s earnings can be decimated as a result of bonus/loyalty abuse and bookings made with stolen credit card information, which can result in chargebacks.
Frequent monitoring of credit card payments by SMS/email alerts as well as online banking, eliminating paper trails of your credit card number, and reporting lost/stolen cards immediately can all assist to prevent this type of fraud.
Fake Travel Websites/ Hotels & App Cloning:
Many of the most outrageous scams are conducted by bogus travel websites. Travelers all across the world have been defrauded by websites selling counterfeit airline tickets, bogus hotel rooms, false vacation packages and vehicle rentals and in addition, booking multiple hotels with the same booking ID which mostly elderly people do not bother to check.
Popular Apps are cloned to commit fraud. The cloned apps are placed in third-party play stores which are almost identical in terms of the original app’s look & feel, logo and features. User often get confused with the cloned app and downloads it. The malware within the app takes over the device, resulting in compromising the security of the device and account takeovers.
To avoid this, book your reservations directly through the hotel, airline, or rental car agency's official website. The URL should begin with "HTTPS." If not sure whether on a legitimate website, phone the company to double-check.
Account Takeovers (ATOs):
This is a growing issue in the travel industry, especially for airlines and hotels. This kind of fraud occurs when a scammer acquires access to a person's or travel agent’s account information through data breaches or other methods such as phishing, and then poses as a legitimate client/travel agent to conduct unlawful transactions.
Practises like using 3-D Secure online pin, simple two-factor authentication helps prevent ATOs. When authorized employees log into the travel agency’s booking platform, they receive a verification request on their mobile phone, preventing unauthorized access to the system.
Bait and Switch Airline Deals:
One of the most common among offshore internet travel services, this scam operates partly by using search engine or pop-up adverts that claim to save you a hefty amount on a trip. When visitors visit the website, they find lower costs than the big online travel firms. They frequently forget to disclose the vast range of fees.
The easiest way to spot a bait-and-switch offer is to ask if the offer looks too good to be true. A little research, a sceptical attitude can surely help avoid such instances.
Cyber Breach & Bot Attacks
An attempted breach might target any travel organisation that processes substantial amounts of client data. It can harm the company's reputation and expose it to legal action. Bot assaults on travel sites are becoming more advanced and widespread, with the goal of gaining access to sensitive client data or giving fraudulent competitors an advantage.
Customers must be up to speed on payment card industry data security standards and properly dispose of digital data. Also, increase awareness of data security practises, such as strong password protocols.
The online frauds have definitely become a serious risk for the travellers with the growing digital business across countries. Travel businesses need to continuously track and asses for any fake/false claims on behalf of the brand which is also poses risk to the brand’s image among its customer base across the platforms.
Amit Relan, Director and Co-Founder, mFilterIt, said, “Travel is again on the cards for large population but at the same time travel and tourism industry has seen the greatest YoY jump in these travel fraud cases in the past year. According to some reports, credit card fraud is the most popular form of fraud these days, in which a client uses a fake or stolen credit card to make a transaction, resulting in a chargeback to the site. Customers must be made aware of such rising fraudulent activities taking place in the travel sector and keep themselves at bay when planning their future travels, also reporting these fraud websites to the concerned authorities. We hope our study will help in spreading the awareness on this topical subject”