28 Feb

ABTA warns Members of dangers of fraud and robbery

ABTA has issued a warning and new guidelines today to its Members relating to travel fraud. The Association is issuing this advice on the back of recent warnings from both Financial Fraud Action UK and ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) about the increasing number of criminals targeting travel companies. The guidelines aim to help travel businesses safeguard themselves from the danger of losing thousands of pounds and protecting their staff against fraud and robbery.

ABTA has identified four key areas where travel companies are at risk from fraudsters and theft:

  1. Invoice fraud – Financial Fraud Action UK has identified a growing number of cases where fraudsters are targeting the travel industry. Genuine invoices are intercepted by fraudsters and bank account details altered. Members are advised to always keep a note of supplier bank account details and only alter them if verified directly with the supplier.
  2. Credit card fraud – a particularly common type of fraud is card not present fraud, in which fraudsters make telephone or on-line bookings with a stolen card. These bookings are often for last minute, high value airline tickets, due to the fact that the criminal would have departed prior to a transaction being charged back and more often than not do not use the return leg. Members are advised to take precautions when they are concerned about a particular booking, particularly if you are not 100% satisfied that the card holder is the person bookings flights.  Pay particular attention if a caller tries to use more than one card, whatever the reason.  If using on-line systems, consideration should be given to using on-line verification tools, particularly Verified by Visa or MasterCard Securecode. Most importantly ensure that your staff receive regular training and refresher training.
  3. Email fraud – there have been reports of travel companies receiving emails purporting to be from IATA advising agents’ that they need to respond or access a link to log into their account. These emails are not genuine and logging in through the link would provide fraudsters with the agent’s account and login details to allow the criminal to commit frauds against the account. The advice is to never login via an email link, always open your browser and access a website through a known URL.
  4. Travel Agent and Bureaux security – unfortunately retail outlets can be an attractive target for thieves, ABTA has worked with  other partners in the industry and experts to create a guide to improve security and minimise risk which is available for Members.

Steve Abrahamson ABTA Risk Manager said: “Fraud is often seen as a white collar, relatively “victimless “crime, but as anyone who has ever been targeted knows, the damage it can do to individuals and businesses is immense. Fraudsters have a number of tried and tested routes for targeting businesses and our new guide points out the commonest methods used by fraudsters and how best to avoid them.”

Members can access full details about these issues and advice on how to avoid falling a victim by downloading our new fraud guidance.