Anti-fraud group Profit urges agents to make contact over new scam

The chairman of travel anti-fraud group Profit has urged agents to get in touch if they believe customers have fallen victim to an airline booking portal scam.

The call follows advice issued by The Travel Network Group on how agents can protect their businesses from the increasing threat of fraudulent airline websites.

Profit chairman Barry Gooch said one of the latest scams involved customers being conned into handing over hundreds of pounds to choose their airline seat.

This has happened when clients have managed the booking made by their agent by going to what they believe to be the airline’s legitimate website page to choose their airline seat.

Gooch said agents could warn their customers about potential scams or choose the seats on their behalf to avoid clients being conned out of money.

He said: “Travel agents rely on repeat customers so the last thing they want is for someone booking through them to find out someone else has scammed them.

“If this happens please get in touch with me. If you are not aware this is happening check with your clients. I would advise them to scan for spyware [malicious software] in case something is on their computer system, which usually comes from a phishing email.”

Gooch said he believed the “vast majority” of agents were unaware of the scam.

“The easy way to stop this is to book seats for customers,” he added.

TTNG has issued urgent advice for members which suggests agents verify website URLs, use secure connections and trusted sources, avoid clicking on email links, update passwords, use multi-factor authentication and update their security software.

The Advantage Travel Partnership said its members had access to in-depth tips, videos and information on topics such as phishing and stolen credit cards to help prevent them falling victim to fraudulent scams.

David Moon, head of business development, said: “We have also been working closely with the Prevention of Fraud in Trade (Profit) to share information of any individuals who have been involved in fraudulent activity across the travel industry and with other member organisations.”

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