Fraud in the Travel Industry – Things you Need to Look Out for
Travel scams are on the rise, so it is vital to do your homework when booking all aspects of business travel. Travel risk management is an essential part of ensuring that employees stay safe, happy and healthy when they’re on the road, and these tips can help make sure that any business travel arrangements you make are legit.
Types of Business Travel Scams
Three of the most common types of travel fraud are –
- Shady sellers offering tickets that have been purchased with stolen credit card information,
- Sale of nonexistent airline tickets and
- Fake travel websites that steal corporate travelers’ financial and personal information.
Buyers of fraudulently acquired airline tickets are often turned away at the airport and left stranded or scrambling to find a way to get to their destination. When business travelers are fooled by fake travel websites, they not only fail to receive legitimate tickets, they run the risk of their personal and financial information being stolen as well.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a great deal–and it’s easier than you may think to be taken in by fraudulent travel websites. Working with legitimate business travel agencies that have direct relationships with airlines, hotels and other companies that provide business travel services can help you avoid losing your time, money and peace of mind on fraudulent reservations or tickets.
Beware of Mirror Sites
Online hotel booking fraud is growing, and one of the most prevalent hotel reservation scams is “mirror site” deception. These rogue sites present themselves as official booking websites of hotel and resort companies. They can be tough to identify when you’re looking for reservations because they often use the hotel name in the web address, list legitimate-looking addresses and phone numbers, and use real photos of the hotel and its logo on the website.
Seeking the services of well-established corporate travel agents who have already done due diligence on the companies they use ensures that you won’t be taken in by fake travel agencies or rogue sites. If you are booking reservations on your own, confirm that the website is secure by checking for a lock symbol in the web address and a URL starting with “https.” Call the number listed on the site and ask specific questions about the amenities the hotel offers and what’s nearby. If they can’t come up with answers right away, you may be dealing with a fraudulent site.
Always Pay with a Credit Card
Credit cards offer much more fraud protection than debit cards, cash and other payment methods. Using a debit card can give a thief access to all the money in your bank account and lead to disastrous financial consequences. Your company should have travel expense policy guidelines that outline which forms of payment to use when making corporate travel arrangements. Using a dedicated corporate travel agency that has all payment information on file can streamline the process so employees don’t have to worry about using their own methods of payment and being reimbursed later.
Knowing which types of scams are out there is half the battle–with a little research, you can avoid being taken for a ride.