With the uplift of lockdown and relaxed travel restrictions, leisure travel, as well as travel fraud statistics, have risen considerably due to weak Document verification services.
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Travel restriction that came with COVID:
The anxiety and stress experienced by the people due to the restrictions imposed on traveling during the pandemic caused several mental health issues. Being caged in their homes with minds consumed by the bitter reality, it had been challenging to maintain their sanity levels. However, with a significant increase in vaccine intake and relaxed travel restrictions, people seemed to come back to life and free themselves of the torturing confinement. Hence, the long-anticipated travel plans were practically worked on and people went on vacations with the primary motive to release the stress.
A surge in travel frauds:
Where the leisure traveling ratio rose to heights, a significant increase in travel frauds was also reported. The degree of eagerness in the people towards traveling was deeply judged by the scammers and they left no chance to exploit them. With such keenness towards vacationing, the travelers became victim to the scammers’ shady tactics, quite easily. Creating fake travel websites to provide too-good-to-be-true vacation packages, from false telemarketing calls to being travel agent impersonators, the scammers had the travelers all covered and earned a good sum of money through these illicit activities.
Most travelers find themselves too vigilant to be scammed but that is exactly where they fall prey to the scammers’ new and witty tactics.
Commonly experienced Travel Frauds:
Here are a few of the most common travel scams :
- The taxi surcharge: the foremost fraud that most travellers fall prey to, is the taxi overcharge where the drivers either refuse to turn the meter on or it goes faster than the usual charging the customer unfairly. One way to prevent this from happening is to be well informed about the rates beforehand mainly from your hotel staff so that you can negotiate with the driver ahead of time.
- Fully booked Hotel: Another scam following the taxi scam is where your taxi driver refuses you from taking you to the hotel claiming it to be unable to accommodate you since it’s fully booked. Had that been true, the hotel would have not placed a reservation beforehand. Hence, the travellers need to be vigilant enough to escape the scammers false claims.
- Fake ticket/accommodation: setting up fake websites or displaying fake ads on genuine websites to attract travellers has been one tactic that benefits scammers the most. This usually works wonders for them when there’s an event or concert and the hotel accommodation demand increases significantly.
- Credit card skimming: collecting personal details (pin code) etc, through the credit cards of the travellers is another common practice of scammers. In order to prevent that, you should either try to pay through cash or cheques or get your card back instantly after it is swiped. The scammers keep illegal machines through which the data is extracted.
- Vehicle hire scam: The car rental agents demand thousands of dollars from you to compensate for the damages that you have done to the car. When in reality they provide you with a priorly damaged vehicle, blame you for it in order to make money. Checking the car properly beforehand and taking pictures of the damages before use can save you from the fraud.
Studying the travel frauds through real-time data:
As per the data collected from Robokiller, a spam call, and text blocker app, unsolicited travel-related messages reached 4.9 billion in the US in 2021 i.e. an 80% increase since 2020. Promotional spam messages particularly for free cruises experienced a boom with a 300% increase since 2020. The vice president of marketing at TeleTech; the parent company of Robokiller, stated that the scammers no longer followed traditional ways to scam the travelers but have adopted unique tactics such as using authentic websites such as Delta and Booking.com to display unauthorized content.
Additional Fraud Strategies:
Yet another strategy was to fool the travelers by asking for credit card information in order to correct a seemingly detected error in their social security number. Hence, using their financial information for illicit personal gains. Since people eagerly searched for affordable airfare and vaccination package deals, scammers very easily fooled them by offering attractive lower-priced packages. The chairman of travelers united, traveler advocacy in Washington DC, stated that since people looking for alternate websites for affordable packages, that they would normally overlook, it created a golden opportunity for the scammers to swoop in with their irresistible deals.
In this regard, Marriott filed a lawsuit against the perpetrators who illicitly misrepresented themselves as Marriott agents and sent tons of fake robocalls (telemarketing calls through Robokiller) to people.
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