Travelers beware: Business trips are coming back – and so are fraudsters

Fraud is one thing the pandemic didn’t shut down. Information security expert Frank Schuchard reminds travel teams and travelers to stay on top of protecting their data as travel resumes. Check out this Q&A for what Schuchard says travel teams and travelers need to know about fraud.

Frank Schuchard, Information Security Director, BCD Travel

What’s the one thing you wish travel managers and travelers understood about data fraud?

Most travelers are not even aware of what happens to their travel data when they book business or leisure trips. We shouldn’t assume the trip gets booked at the travel agency and that’s the end of the data journey. In reality, your data may be forwarded to several suppliers, including airline, hotel, rental car, rail, loyalty program providers and others.

For example, when a ticket is booked with a credit card, relevant information is shared with the credit card company and billing office. If you make a duty-free purchase in the airport, the store captures your name, airline ticket information (e.g., departure and arrival locations and times), your credit card number, and the description of your purchase. If you’re traveling to a destination where your travel data must be sent in advance so that you may enter, your data is shared with authorities and organizations of the respective country.

The point is your data is being collected, processed, used and stored multiple times. And it’s vulnerable to attack or compromise in each situation.

So, what can companies do?

A best practice for companies is to always find out how the travel agency protects data against three basic threats: loss of availability, integrity and confidentiality. Companies should expect travel agencies to provide a fully integrated and audited Information Security Management System (ISMS) for threat protection.

Companies should be aware of so-called “CEO Fraud” messages. The sender poses as a member of management and tries to get an employee to perform a certain action, such as transferring a certain amount of money to a certain account. In early 2021, a fraudulent caller pretended to be a CEO and used a phishing email to convince a BCD travel agent to book multiple round-trip flights. Often successful attempts are made to exploit the willingness of an employee to help his boss.

Every BCD booking is automatically searched for threat “red flags.” BCD also checks its bookings against IATA Perseuss, the world’s leading platform for fraud intelligence, allowing airlines and other merchants to cooperate to identify and fight fraudulent schemes. Should BCD detect a fraudulent booking, we initiate and follow a defined cancellation and communication process.

CHECK THIS OUT: Make sure your travel program is risk ready

What should business travelers look for?

We all need to be on the lookout for phishing, or sending fake emails or messages to trick people into falling for a scam. Detecting the emails has become much harder. The scammers are intelligent and DarkNet programs are designed to bypass antivirus detection products. It remains a “cat-and-mouse game” between the scammers and the information security industry.

If you’re taking a business trip, keep these four tips in mind:

  • Don’t log in to corporate accounts over free public Wi-Fi hotspots. The information is vulnerable to interceptions.
  • Go paperless: Keep itineraries and travel documents on your password-protected mobile device.
  • Don’t divulge travel dates and locations on social media. This information can be used by fraudsters for social engineering attacks.
  • Don’t talk loudly about business in public places like the hotel bar or on the train on the phone. You would be amazed at the information I get just by listening. And be on the lookout for “shoulder surfers,” anyone glancing over your shoulder to steal information.

KEEP READING: 8 ways to outsmart fraudsters

What are your top recommendations for traveler security apps?

BCD Travel developed a number of apps and information pages help travelers move safely and comfortably. Our BCD TripSource® platform houses travel details and travel alerts in one place. BCD Alert, is our newly released app, developed for travel and security managers, to facilitate around-the-clock risk management and response.

To learn more or to schedule a Travel Program Risk Assessment, BCD Travel clients should contact their program manager. Not a client? Get in touch. 

Travel smart. Travel well.

Travel is different now. Travel teams must reimagine their programs with protocols and solutions in place to increase travelers’ confidence and protect their health. The Back to Travel guide is designed to give you the answers you need to lead your company back to business safely, efficiently and smartly.

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