ARC recently hosted a webinar with experts from Gemini Advisory and Perseuss to share how fraudsters are targeting businesses and travelers during COVID-19 and the trends that will impact the air travel industry when bookings begin to rise. Below are takeaways from their presentation and recommendations for staying vigilant of fraud during this time.
Increases in ticket purchases, exchanges and refunds inevitably lead to increases in fraud, as fraudsters manipulate the fears of customers for financial gain.
Increases in ticket purchases, exchanges and refunds inevitably lead to increases in fraud, as fraudsters manipulate the fears of customers for financial gain. Both airlines and travel agencies are affected through transactions on their website and via their call centers. From an ARC perspective, the most common fraud schemes seen at this time are:
- Scammers claiming to be healthcare workers, family members needing to book urgent travel
- Fake repatriation requests
- GDS password reset requests
- Enticing emails from the government or financial service providers offering support
Agents also need to be aware that booking patterns are changing, which makes it more difficult to find fraud.
Agents also need to be aware that booking patterns are changing, which makes it more difficult to find fraud. Bookings due to COVID-19 are happening closer to their flight times, which previously had been a sign of fraud. Agents should be aware that this may be a new norm going for the coming months.
Perseuss noted several trends that travel agencies should also be aware of, including:
- Fraudsters are shifting their focus to small and midsize travel agencies that have fewer resources, less knowledge about fraud and possibly no fraud tools in place
- Fraudsters are closely monitoring when agencies start to see business again and are aligning their tactics with those times
- As extra incentives to fly rise, so too will the number of fraudsters posing as travel agencies
While travel agents and airlines deal with fraud during COVID-19 and beyond, there are resources available to them to help combat fraud. ARC Risk Check is a tool created by ARC and Perseuss that validates customers and provides insight into transactions that may be fraudulent. After filling out simple data points (name, phone, email, IP address) from a transaction, the tool provides:
- A risk score based on data collected by agencies, airlines and through the dark web
- Recommendations on next steps
- Access to additional resources and tools
To learn more about the ARC Risk Check program, click here. New sign-ups get the first two months of ARC Risk Check for free.
Experts in the presentation also recommended several ways to better safeguard GDS systems during this time. These included reviewing passwords and implementing a mandatory password refresh process every few months, along with assessing access assignments and closing out dormant accounts. It is also best to work with your IT department to formulate a plan of action to recover your systems should you be affected by ransomware
To view the full “Staying Vigilant: How to Combat Fraud During COVID-19” webinar, click here.