ARC’s risk management team recently concluded the first annual Fraud Awareness Month held throughout the month of September. The month was dedicated to creating and supporting awareness of fraud in the travel value chain to our agency stakeholders, with webinars addressing the impact of best practices and fraud-identifying tools. This series of 10 webinars presented by ARC, the private sector and law enforcement partners had over 1,800 agent and airline registrants.

The month kicked off with a webinar hosted by ARC’s Doug Nass, who gave an industry update and shared Top Fraud Schemes Affecting the Agency Community. This was followed by a webinar hosted by Tony Ashe, vice president of business development at Perseuss, discussing How to Protect Your Agency’s Bottom Line. Ashe identified that 1 to 2 percent of all airline and online travel agency (OTA) bookings via websites are fraudulent. We also learned that the global cost of fraud in the travel industry is estimated at $858 million.

The second week of the month was focused on the OTA segment, addressing complex solutions on how to combat fraud. ARC partnered with Ethoca’s Keith Briscoe and Julie Fergerson to explore ways to Fight Fraud through Collaboration. Some interesting statistics were presented, identifying that over $118 billion in transactions are falsely rejected by U.S. card issuers, versus only $9 billion in actual fraud measured by U.S. card issuers. Fortunately, some best practices for reducing false declines were also identified, and it is suggested that you measure your false decline rate by reviewing cancelled orders where the cardholder later called in to reinstate the order. Choose a random sampling of orders canceled by the manual review team, and issuer, and call the cardholder to find out what the problem was.

The Ethoca team was followed by Simon Rushforth and Eric Labiak from Featurespace, who discussed Using Behavioral Analytics to Spot Fraudsters. Bringing the week to a close was ARC’s Adnan Jafer, reflecting on why PCI compliance is a good practice for all with his webinar on PCI for Travel Agents: Protecting Valuable Customer Data.

Into the third week, we focused on ARC's value proposition in areas such as the Debit Memo Working Group, where Paige Blunt presented What Travel Agencies Need to Know About Debit Memos, followed by Jennifer Watkins presenting The Evolution of Credit Card Acceptance, Fraud Prevention and Chargeback Management. Rich Licato closed out the week presenting his webinar, You Have What Cybercriminals Want - Data Protection and Pitfalls.

The final week provided some insights on how the dark web is used to conduct fraud in the travel sector. Aaron Henry from the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance hosted a webinar, Fraud in the Travel Sector: Insights from Law Enforcement and Cyber-Forensics, where he illuminated how the dark web operates and the ways card details can be obtained and used to conduct fraud in the travel sector.

Fraud Awareness Month closed out with a discussion between ARC’s Cornelius Hattingh and Doug Nass; Featurespace’s Simon Rushforth; Ethoca’s Trevor Clarke; and Perseuss’ Tony Ashe reflecting on The True Cost of Fraud to Travel Agents along with some great tips and applications that agents can start using to manage fraud straight away.