Fraud Alert: Spoofed Agency Websites Lead to Credit Card Fraud

ARC has developed information that at least two websites from U.S. travel agencies have been spoofed by a fraudster likely operating from Russia.

The fraudster copies the graphics from legitimate agency websites and pastes those graphics into his own website to appear genuine. It is ARC’s belief that the fraudster’s websites do not have a booking capability; however, these fraudulent websites were created to appear legitimate in case a hotel employee attempts to verify their agency’s information.

The fraudster then contacts hotels via email posing as a representative from the legitimate U.S. travel agency to book stays for his customers, but will use compromised credit cards to pay for the hotel stays.

Characteristics of the Scheme

  • This fraudster creates a website and email domain similar to that of the legitimate agency, but will use a hyphen (“-“) within the domain address:
  • Legitimate website: abctravel.com* Fraud website: abc-travel.com*
  • Graphics from the legitimate agency website are duplicated on the fraudster’s website.
  • Spoofed websites were registered in Russia.
  • Customers who stay at the hotel properties are primarily Russian.
  • Fraudster targets hotels and car rental companies throughout Europe.
  • Fraudster communicates via email from a domain that appears very similar to the legitimate agency email address.
  • Compromised credit card information is emailed to the hotel to pay for the customer’s room.
  • Photoshopped images of a U.S. passport may be emailed to the hotel.
  • Photoshopped images of the front and back of credit cards may be emailed to the hotel as well.

*These are generic examples of how the fraudster takes a legitimate website and creates his own by inserting a hyphen in to the domain address. To determine when a website or an email domain was created, enter the domain name in to whois.com.

If your agency name, email address or website has been spoofed by a fraudster, please contact ARC’s Risk Management team at 855-358-0393, or send an email to stopfraud@arccorp.com.


ARC Introduces Best Practices for Debit Memos

ARC is proud to announce the travel industry’s first set of best practices for preventing and resolving debit memos, created by the Debit Memo Working Group (DMWG).

The Best Practices for Effective Debit Memo Resolution and Prevention include guidelines for airlines, travel agencies, global distribution systems (GDSs) and ARC. The goal of these best practices is to produce more effective, timely and predictable debit memo resolution, as well as the prevention of debit memos wherever possible.

Download the Best Practices

Every day, ARC settles approximately $238 million in airline ticket transactions between more than 220 airlines and 12,000 travel agency locations. In 2017, a daily average of $337,000 in debit memos was issued to U.S. travel agencies. Historically, each agency and airline has handled these debit memos in disparate ways — resulting in a complex, time-consuming and often unpredictable environment.

Thanks to the work of the DMWG, the industry now has a set of guidelines for more effective debit memo resolution. For more than a year, the Debit Memo Working Group has been working to identify key issues surrounding debit memos. In a series of workshops throughout 2017, the DMWG collaborated on proposed solutions that would benefit the industry as a whole. In December 2017, the DMWG voted to approve the finalized set of best practices.

“When debit memos do arise, we can all leverage this document to examine our habits, and align to the best of our ability with what the industry has defined as best practices,” said Paula Peitz, director of airline accounting for Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “This will drive consistency in our processes and allow us to work more effectively with our industry partners.”

“From Delta’s perspective, having best practices in place sets goals and expectations for airlines, agencies and GDS providers allowing all to improve customer service and provide consistency for the debit memo process from end to end,” said Hope Harper, revenue recovery manager at Delta Air Lines.

To learn more about how your agency can adopt some or all of these best practices for effective debit memo resolution, register for one of ARC’s upcoming webinars, Debit Memo Best Practices for Agencies and Debit Memo Best Practices for Airlines.


Nile Air Joins ARC

Nile Air (NP/325) will join ARC as a participating airline effective with sales on January 29, 2018 (PED 02/04/18).

Nile Air is a privately owned Egyptian airline that has been operating scheduled services since March 2011. The airline operates two classes of service from Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, with domestic and international destinations that include: Aswan, Luxor, Sharm El Sheik, Port Sudan, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Luxor, Jeddah and more. Nile Air operates the youngest fleet of aircraft in Egypt and it consists of Airbus 320s and Airbus 321s.

Nile Air has elected the General Concurrence method of agent appointment, whereby all ARC agents are automatically appointed as agents of Nile Air. The airline is available in Amadeus, Sabre, Worldspan and Galileo. Nile Air only accepts cash as a valid form of payment at the moment; however, credit cards will be added in the near future.

For inquiries, reservations, or sales information, contact the offices listed below:

Nile Air USA
420 Lexington Ave., Suite 358-360
New York, NY 10170
Phone: 877-958-2577
Email: nileair@airlinepros.com

Website: www.nileair.com/#/en/home


Update to Section 6 of the Industry Agents' Handbook: Elimination of the Chargeback Policy

Travel agents will be pleased to know that, effective February 1, 2018, Section 6 of the Industry Agents’ Handbook (IAH) will be updated. This update includes the elimination of the credit card chargeback policy, which states that a signed and imprinted charge form is required as support for the transaction in the event of a chargeback. The new Section 6 also includes procedures for payment card acceptance and chargeback management, and best practices in both areas, and can be found on the ARC website.

On December 6, ARC hosted a webinar for agents, which covered the changes to Section 6, and provided information about how agents can manage the risk of fraud associated with payment card acceptance, and what to do if a chargeback is received. You can view the webinar recording here.

If you have any questions about the change, please contact ARC’s Credit Card Services team at creditcardservices@arccorp.com.


Santa Bárbara Airlines Suspended in ARC

ARC has learned that Santa Bárbara Airlines (S3/249) ceased operations; therefore, all transactions in IAR have suspended processing, including cash and credit card refunds. If you have any questions, please contact the airline at www.sbairlines.com.


ARC Specialist Training and Certification Class

Do you want the opportunity to earn your ARC Specialist Certificate?

The ARC Specialist Training and Certification class will be provided at ARC's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, March 6–8, 2018.

ARC developed the ARC Specialist Training and Certification program with the help of industry representatives from the travel agent and airline communities. This program provides education on ARC's policies, procedures, products, and services.

In this class, you will participate in written and verbal exercises as well as group discussions. Upon completion of the class, you will receive a certificate of completion.

The following topics will be covered during the class:

  • ARC 101
  • ARC's Agent Reporting Agreement (ARA)
  • ARC Accreditation Services
  • My ARC
  • Document Ordering System (DOS)
  • Document Security
  • Taxes, Fees and Charges
  • Credit Card Processing
  • Ticketing
  • Sales Reporting Process
  • Interactive Agent Reporting (IAR)
  • Voids and Modification Rules
  • Adjustments
  • ARC Memo Manager (AMM)
  • Exchanges and Refunds
  • Travel Agency Service Fee (TASF) Program
  • IAR Back Office System (BOS)
  • Internet Sales Summary (ISS)
  • Document Retrieval Service (DRS)
  • ARC's Agent Resources

After the class, you can take the ARC Specialist Certification exam online at your convenience. You will have 30 days to take the exam upon completion of the training class. Those who pass the exam will receive their ARC Specialist Certification.

Register Now


Tip of the Week: 2018 ARC Agency Fee

Would you like to have a list of ARC’s settlement and membership fees for 2018? If so, then check out the 2018 ARC Agency Fees document, which includes a description of each fee and a projected collection schedule. You can view this information by visiting the ARC website, then in the top right-hand corner, click on the Sign In button. Under Popular Tools & Resources, click on (the first link) 2018 ARC Agency Fee. The document is also available by clicking here.