As online crimes continue to increase and effect an array of industries it is important to always be vigilant. The hospitality industry is not immune to this infectious rate of increase cyber crime, especially during festive periods where fraudsters target people who are desperate to secure travel and accommodation at the last minute.
The increase of cyber crime has seen an increase in responsibility of banks to ensure that their customers are educated about how to protect themselves from falling into the traps set by these online criminals.
Sahil Mungar of FNB Digital Banking highlights the threat stating that, “If you have or haven’t yet booked your travel and accommodation, not only are you likely to pay a premium, but you could also fall victim to some online scams.”
“Fraudsters exploit potential holiday makers by falsely advertising holiday accommodation or timeshares on the internet and social media. Consumers are then deceived to pay upfront in order to secure their bookings. This further gives scammers an opportunity to request ID copies and bank details of their victims, which are then used for identity theft,” adds Mungar.
When consumers become desperate to secure holiday travel and accommodation, they can easily overlook scams due to the pressure, only to find out that they’ve been defrauded when they get to the venue.
Mungar advises consumers to be extra cautious when booking accommodation online, he highlighted precautions that people should be aware of :
- Always try and book accommodation three months in advance or longer to avoid disappointments. This will help you to qualify for discounts and gives you enough time to do the necessary background and security checks.
- Use search engines like Google. If you’re worried about a property or suspect that the photographs are fake, simply look it up yourself online. Look for reviews from other travelers and Google Maps to ensure that the place exists.
- Use websites like tripadvisor.com, booking.com and similar websites to check reviews and to book accommodation securely. Generally these websites guarantee the booking.
- Call directly to publically advertised phone numbers to confirm the booking availability. Even if you get called, rather hang up and call back on the official number.
- Avoid depositing or transferring money to an individual’s bank account or sending your personal details to their private email address. Rather pay online on the accommodation’s actual website or in person at the venue.
- Lookout for suspicious behavior. Take notice of bad grammar in emails, foreign phone numbers, or if the owner or property manager is not responding to emails. These can all be warning signs.
- If you have friends and family that stay close to the place, ask them to go and verify if it is legitimate.
“To avoid scams, consider checking out properties from reputable travel websites and agents in advance and never respond to online and social media adverts without verifying that the sources are legitimate,” concludes Mungar.