Ask the expert: Travel related fraud
Ask the expert
I’ve recently noticed an increase in travel related fraud stories in both the national and trade media, can you give an explanation as to why this might be occurring?
Unfortunately, like many other industries the travel industry can be, and sometimes is, targeted by fraudsters, both our customers and the trade itself.
Customers falling victim to holiday scams is not a new thing. Extremely low prices, widespread availability even at the busiest times of year and only offering bank transfer into a private individual’s bank account as the payment method are some of the tactics fraudsters use to catch out would-be holidaymakers.
Fraudsters know that people will be looking for bargains at busy times of year when legitimate availability is low and prices subsequently higher, so they tend to target these times of year. Luxury villas and airline tickets over Christmas have often been a favourite area for fraudsters for this reason, as criminals seek to get as much money they can by targeting peak periods and high-end products. The majority of travel related fraud is also committed online, with increasingly sophisticated and convincing websites which can be very difficult to distinguish from legitimate sites.
Over the years ABTA has worked closely with City of London Police to raise awareness of the problem and give advice to consumers on how to spot warning signs and how they can protect themselves, including ensuring that you book with an ABTA member. This advice can be found on abta.com/fraud.
Of course, it’s not just holidaymakers who are targeted by fraud – travel companies can be too, and there have been multiple reports in the trade press recently of companies being targeted by scammers.
We have information for members on what to look out for and ways you can safeguard your business from fraudsters, this can be found in the ABTA Member Zone. It includes important advice such as not refunding card payments by other means and consider using online verification systems. ABTA’s fraud prevention advice for members can be found here.
Whether you are a customer or travel company, travel related fraud comes with a heavy financial and emotional cost, making it a particularly despicable crime, but as an industry we can work together to help protect the travelling public and our own businesses.
Steve Abrahamson, Head of Risk Management at ABTA