How good is your fraud awareness?

How good is your fraud awareness?

How good is your fraud awareness?

Credit card fraud in the Canadian travel industry is definitely on the rise, with professional fraud teams all over the world getting a lot smarter than they used to be. If you are an independent travel agent, how do you protect yourself?

ACTA has declared March Fraud Awareness Month, referring to all types of fraud, including that by travel agents themselves.

So what can you do?

If you get requests by email, especially for flights in business class or from outside Canada, ask for a billing address, and photo of the front and back of the credit card, but also for a matching driver’s license.

If something looks suspicious, it usually is. Don’t be afraid to ask for several pieces of identification if you don’t know the customer. Is that sale really worth it? You don’t want to get stuck with a debit memo for $2,000 if it is fraudulent use of the card.

The fraudsters are getting very clever. They use Internet cafes so they cannot be traced. Some pose as travel agents and offer friends a cheap trip or special deal for, say, $2,000. The friend pays cash, they pocket the cash and use a stolen card to pay for the trip. In this scenario, the friends who travelled were not aware their trip was paid for by a stolen credit card. So watch out if anyone is using a card that is different from the names of the passengers travelling. Check with the credit card owner for permission and ID, and ideally of course, a signature.

Christine Chilton of ACTA says that one of the problems with an online booking is that when agents see the credit card number, they only see the first and last four digits. “When it is processed online in Softvoyage, for example, the credit card number goes directly to the processing house for compliance reasons, and the agent simply gets a verification code. Then if it turns out to be fraudulent, the credit card processing companies take no responsibility.”

If your host agency provides you with an air only booking engine, how are you protected? Be sure to ask this question!

As an agent you need to always be aware of a possible fraud. It’s a horrible way to have to look at the world, but there is so much fraud in travel transactions, you can’t afford not to be cautious and suspicious of anything that doesn’t look quite right.