Scammers exploiting trust in travel industry

Scammers exploiting trust in travel industry

Fraudsters are taking advantage of the trustworthy perception of the travel industry, new research claims.

A poll of 1,500 UK residents asking who is most trustworthy when making a transaction found that 39% trusted a travel agent when making a payment to them.

More than a third ‘mostly trusted’ a hotel receptionist when taking debit card details over the phone.

But car dealers were trusted by just 11% of those surveyed and estate agents by 15%.

The 45-54 year olds in the poll were particularly trusting of the travel industry, with more than 42% trusting hoteliers and agents.

But online directory 192.com, which conducted the poll, warned consumers to beware of fraudsters selling fake holidays.

The caution came as national fraud and online crime reporting centre Action Fraud reported 151 frauds involving airline tickets since January. More than 100 of these occurred between April and June.

The scam involves fraudulent websites claiming to be authorised airline ticket agents promising cheap deals. Fraudsters buy the tickets on behalf of consumers before cancelling them once the airline has issued the tickets.

A fraudster may also purchase a legitimate e-ticket then sell copies of it to multiple buyers, fake an e-mailed ticket, or purchase tickets using a fraudulently acquired credit card.

Holiday fraud also involves selling fictitious vacations, tempting victims with low prices. In reality, the holiday does not exist, or the victim only gets part of what they have purchased.

Particularly vulnerable are those seeking online bargains.

A survey by government-backed Get Safe Online survey found that almost 1 in 3 of web users booking holidays online do not confirm the authenticity of travel providers before handing over payment details.

Dominic Blackburn, product director of 192.com said: “Don’t assume an advert is genuine just because the website is. Research the property or hotel you’re booking - verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps.

“Do the images of the property or hotel match those on the advert? Bing maps can give you a bird’s eye view of properties; and use 192.com to see who actually lives there. This can help you decide if the property it’s available for rent.

“Check the individual the selling you the holiday. Is the person who they say they are? Access our 300 million UK edited electoral roll records to match a name with an address.”

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