Earlier this week I received an email pitching a service to help agencies detect fraud. It piqued my interest initially and to be honest, it did not seem to have a whole lot of meat to it. So much of it was not applicable to agencies, but more to tour operators, OTAs, and airlines. And then there was this statement that make begin to think.
The entirety of the article is summed up in an infographic here; but what caught my eye was the behavior of fraudsters. And the average dollars of the fraud.
The dollar value was not terribly high on a transactional basis, but certainly if you were hit a number of times, it could add up. And in our industry, we have little protection against fraud. We run a ticket through ARC and it is bad—oh well—it’s usually our problem. If we do not have a physical card and signature on file, most tour operators and cruise lines will come back to us. After all, they have their own fraud issues to worry about.
And given the nature of our industry, it is becoming more and more rare to actually have a client in a chair in front of our desk to hand over a credit card, write a check (remember those?), or hand over some cold, hard cash. So, I am asking you…how do we protect ourselves?
The behaviors of fraudsters are seemingly valid for online and in person. Back in the old days, we’d get random phone calls for LHR-ACC. Then that morphed into emails—always business or first class! That was easy to spot. As was the lone person that wandered in and immediately said they wanted the week at Beaches Turks & Caicos in the top of the line butler suite. People just don’t behave that way.
But how can we combat that online? Sure we could buy the sift science program starting at $1,000/month, but that is untenable. Heck, most agencies will squirm at buying ClientBase for $60/month.
If anyone has a suggestion, I am all ears. In the meantime, I may bone up on my Google Analytics and learn how to track online behavior and see if I can flag an inquiry that seems “too fast” for comfort.