Online Travel Agent (OTA) fraud is soaring, with $1.3b (£998m) swindled out of bad bookings.
More than 50 per cent of travel fraud is now committed through fraudulent OTAs, according to a new report from Forter.
The fraud prevention platform has warned travellers to think twice before making purchases for holidays online.
Forter’s report said: “That makes fraud attacks – and preventing them – a problem of scale, since the fraudsters have effectively set up a business to maximise their attempts, thefts and profits.
“Yet fully scaling fraud prevention is impossible without full automation.”
Fraudsters can read customer details, work at scale by acting as an agent and employ local knowledge to make themselves seem genuine.
Other tricks include booking tickets in groups of diverse nationalities to confuse antifraud authorities and exploiting travellers who book last-minute.
Peter Bayley, Executive Director of Risk Management at Visa Europe said: “The unfortunate fact is that, for a host of reasons, airlines do generate conspicuously high levels of card fraud.”
Although it can be hard to detect online fraud when booking your holiday, there are ways you can prevent getting scammed.
Forter’s tips on how consumers can protect themselves include:
- Strengthen your credentials: Change your passwords every six months and don’t use the same password for everything
- Stick with the retailers you know: A website with a deal too good to be true- probably is. Stick with online travel sites that are established, including Priceline and Expedia
- Check the history of the travel site you’re using: Ensure that you’re not buying from a fly-by-night retailer by checking on the website’s history and traffic
Almost 6,000 British holidaymakers were victims of booking fraud in 2016, a total cost of £7.2 million.