Anti-fraud group gives travel firms advice on how to stop scams

Travel agents can reduce the risk of fraud against their businesses by taking a number of steps at little cost, according to travel anti-fraud group Profit.

The Prevention of Fraud in Trade group is keen to work with more travel firms, including agents, to help them avoid becoming victims of crime.

Chairman Barry Gooch said: “There are several things that all travel agents can do which will cost them little or nothing.

MoreAgents urged to be alert as firms report rise in fraudulent enquiries

“It is down to all travel companies to take steps to reduce their risks. Insurers, banks, and card schemes are notoriously unsympathetic to company losses.”

Gooch said verification tools were only “partially effective” as they check the payment, which could be a stolen or cloned card, or the lead passenger, which could be a stolen identity.

“Fraudsters know this so typically use stolen payment details before they are blocked by the banks and add their own names below the lead passenger’s on the booking,” said Gooch.

It is vital travel companies know what a high risk booking looks like and take extra care when validating them, he said.

High risk bookings include those that are flight-only and departing in the next seven days and where the country is different on the booking to the bank identification number (BIN) code on the card and/or the IP address.

Travel firms should avoid taking payment on a card that does not belong to the person making the booking while there are also known hot spots for fraud, which are higher risk, and certain departure or arrival destinations that are more commonly used by fraudsters.

Agents have told Travel Weekly that fraudsters have used elaborate stories to explain how they know the owner of the business in order to come across as genuine bookers. Gooch said while it was important to be wary of customers who were not regulars, it was important to be on the alert across the board.

“They should be complacent about repeat bookings. How do you know the regular customer has not had their payment and identity details compromised and the agent is in fact transacting with a criminal?” he said.

Profit can help provide more information on known high risk destinations, which change during the year, according to Gooch. He added: “If in doubt, don’t take the booking.”

Profit’s website lists a number of different online tools that agents can use to verify a customer’s address or phone number or locate an individual overseas or online.

Profit can also provide firms with search bundles for the UK travel industry’s intelligence system which contains crime data and has live reports of fraud transactions from the sector.

“Search bundles typically cost pence per check and take seconds to do,” said Gooch, who urged concerned travel firms to get in touch by emailing

MoreAgents urged to be alert as firms report rise in fraudulent enquiries

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