Following some concerns and news surrounding the progression of travel scam tactics against travel businesses, the Prevention of Fraud in Travel (PROFiT) organisation has released some updated advice on the nuances of the current concerns for travel businesses. 

PROFiT detailed several big and small steps that workers in travel businesses can take in order to reduce and prevent the effect of travel scams on their business. While this has been a prevalent issue in the high-risk industry of travel, the methods taken towards travel scams often evolve with the evolution of common technologies used by travel businesses. Because of this, it is important for travel businesses and their employees of travel businesses to ensure they know how to recognise signs of a potential scam. 

Many of us are aware of the more obvious scams that come in the form of emails or links, often with vague or inviting messages. However, some travel agents have reported over the past few weeks of travel scams posing as consumers in new ways. Chairman Barry Gooch of PROFiT, touched on this area in a statement and detailed how verifications tools for payments and large, risk-heavy bookings are only “partially effective” when checking a payment that may come from a stolen or cloned card or the identity of the lead passenger who could have had their identity stolen.  

“Fraudsters know this so typically use stolen payment details before they are blocked by the banks and add their own names below the lead passenger’s on the booking,” said Gooch. These tools should not be solely relied on for the verification on high-risk bookings. The travel agent should take extra care validating a high-risk booking to ensure the prevention of a potential travel scam. 

These high-risk bookings could include any that are flight-only and due to depart within the following seven days, alongside bookings where the country is different on the booking and the bank identification number code on the card or the IP address. 

Travel businesses are advised not to take payments from a card that doesn’t belong to the person making the booking, this becoming a very simple way to avoid a potential travel scam. There are also known hot spots for fraud that should be watched out for, along with higher-risk departure or arrival destinations that have been marked as more commonly used by fraudsters. To come across as genuine consumers, travel agents reported, many scammers have told stories explaining that they know the owner of the business and are regular customers. 

“They should be complacent about repeat bookings. How do you know the regular customer has not had their payment and identity details compromised and the agent is in fact transacting with a criminal?” Gooch said. 

“There are several things that all travel agents can do which will cost them little or nothing. It is down to all travel companies to take steps to reduce their risks. Insurers, banks, and card schemes are notoriously unsympathetic to company losses.” 

As a business dedicated to the protection of our members and their consumers, and a member of PROFiT, Protected Trust Services (PTS) always advise members to be vigilant and educated against fraud and travel scams. If you are a PTS member and you are unsure if a potential booking may be a travel scam, the experts at PTS are just a phone call away, or alternatively, you can check out our website for advice on what to do to help you prevent fraud. 

So, if you’d like to learn more about how your consumers’ monies are protected with Protected Trust Services (PTS) and how we support excellent travel businesses, check out our pages. Or you can get in touch with the lovely PTS team by calling 0207 190 9988 or emailing us at ask@protectedtrustservices.com. 

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