Online Travel Fraud: Mitigating Risks & Preventing Slashing Revenues

Apurva Pathak | June 16, 2022 | 316 views | Read Time : 03:25 min

Online Travel Fraud
In 2020, the number of suspected online travel fraud attempts in the U.S. jumped by 136.6%. Two years later, the online travel fraud “industry” is still going strong, making online travel agencies and tourism businesses lose their money and reputation.

"Traveling has always been when people are more vulnerable. A few hundred years ago, the perpetrators were pirates or highwaymen. Now those criminals are still out there, but they've changed their methods to focus on digital attacks instead."

-Caleb Barlow, ex-Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security.

Mitigating fraud risk is important in any industry, but it is especially important in industries like travel where competition is fierce and margins are shrinking. The high resale value of its digital goods makes the travel industry vulnerable to fraud.



Fortunately, advanced solutions that prevent fraud have shown great results in the airline and travel industries. Machine learning and artificial intelligence tools are improving in efficiency. With their help and a variety of other methods, a good travel fraud prevention team can curb fraud in the travel industry, increase profit margins, and cut down on the costs and time taken for manual reviews of transactions to prevent financial losses.


How are Online Travel Agencies Mitigating Fraud Risks and Safeguarding Revenue?

Online travel agencies need to be on their toes to preserve their revenue and reputation, and the integrity of their operations to grow and sustain their businesses. Modern online fraud prevention methods can protect you from fraud without jeopardizing the customer experience. Let us look at these methods:


Implementing Machine Learning-based Solutions

Machine learning-based models can be the backbone of your fraud protection strategy. These models can recognize patterns and predict outcomes. They help you identify anomalies in customer behavior in real time, flag an account-takeover attempt, analyze transaction riskiness, and block them before they result in a chargeback. ML-based fraud detection software like Signifyd and Riskified detects illegitimate activities related to payments, account creation, purchases, and chargebacks. They monitor websites, networks, and applications for fraud and prevent digital payment fraud.
It is important to remember that you need to strike a good balance between these preventive measures and your customer experience, so you do not lose business by focusing on only one aspect.


Transaction Monitoring

This method focuses on the credit card used for booking. Using an intelligence tool, check if there is a mismatch between the user’s IP address and their billing information and if the same user is making too many bookings from the same account or same card. Combine these insights with user verification and fraud scoring tools so you can reject suspicious transactions automatically. Also, keep an eye on changes to bookings to avoid problems, and follow the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DS S) to make sure card payments are as safe as possible.


User Profiling

Gather important customer data like email addresses, credit card information, loyalty points, and social networking handles. Behavioral data on what the customer does on your website or your mobile app, the devices through which the customer connects to the website, and their email address or location can help prevent fraud. Additionally, online travel agencies can verify users in the following ways:

Use an address verification service (AVS) and a card security code (CVV or CVC). Verify scanned ID documents using SaaS products to add another layer of security to every transaction.
Create a blacklist to block specific users if you notice any suspicious attempts.
Use device fingerprinting to block devices previously associated with fraudulent activities.


Anti-ATO Methods

To prevent account takeover attempts, deploy two-factor authentication for travel agents, and 3D secure PIN codes for end customers. Biometric technology and mobile payment wallet apps like Google Pay, and Apple Pay can curb swindlers from getting into a customer’s account without secure pins or fingerprints.


Verify Suppliers

Set up a process for verifying every supplier before making any payments. Check their business license, business reviews on Google, and check their Google Street View to confirm if a hotel actually exists at the mentioned address. Ensure that there is no correlation between a steep increase in hotel prices and booking activity because it could be a hotel price spike scam.


Block Bot Attacks

Any kind of abnormal spike in web or app traffic can be an indication of a bot attack. Real-time protection against bots can be a great way to handle illegitimate traffic. Compare every website request against the in-memory pattern database using ML and AI to check and block bots swiftly. Implement networking that can safeguard your domains within milliseconds upon detecting a bad bot.


Control Friendly Fraud

Chargeback abuses are hard to prevent. The only way to fight back is to document compelling evidence to prove that the said transaction was legitimate. Document order forms, tracking numbers, online travel agency customer communication logs, any kind of travel product redemption evidence, and confirmation for items delivered to an address that matches with the address verification service (AVS).


Air France Sped Up Manual Reviews By 70%

Air France wanted an easy way to access reliable information on potentially risky transactions. So they chose SEON’s Intelligence Tool. 

“The time spent by Air France analysts on manual reviews is down by an impressive 70%.”

- Eric Facquet, Deputy Manager of Fraud Prevention at Air France


Summing It Up

Tackle online travel fraud head-on while keeping in mind your end customer. You must protect your customers from fraud in a way that is strong, practical, and well-balanced. This way should cover the customer's entire journey with you, both literally and figuratively.


FAQ


Which software tools can help with fraud detection?

Fraud detection software tools such as SEON, ClickGUARD, Riskified and Oracle Adaptive Access Manager can help detect fraud.


How can you improve fraud detection?

Use machine learning models to automate processes for fraud investigation, and regularly update rules for detection and how to handle alerts.


What does fraud detection software do?

Fraud detection software regulates accounts, payments, purchases, and events in real-time to detect any fraudulent activities. It also protects sensitive company and customer data.

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Founded in 1983 as a part of The Vantage Group, Inc., Vantage Deluxe World Travel today is a $240 million, travel/direct marketing company that has escorted more than 400,000 mature travelers around the world. The company's proven financial track record is demonstrated by its more than 25 years in business and its consistently growing profitability. Vantage creates and markets travel programs - offering deluxe trips exclusively to mature individuals to destinations throughout the globe. Vantage programs are complete and planned to provide you with a great experience including life long memories. Vantage also offers group travel serving members of alumni, professional and fraternal groups around the country. Vanatge group travel provides great itineraries for the group, complete planning and free travel for the group leader among many other value added benefits.

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