“Pack Your Bags Honey, We’re Going to [Insert Destination Here]”
Some folks might be heading out to various destinations to visit with extended family this holiday season. Others will be getting out of Dodge and making a beeline for the sun and surf.
What better time for fraudsters to up the ante when credit card info is flying around, passport information is being transferred, and airline and hotel bookings are at their holiday peak. This is the time of year where both consumers and businesses fight off fraud with a vengeance.
A recent news headline stated that 118 people were arrested recently – fraudsters who were conducting business in over 80 airports in 45 countries. The crime involved online services selling credit card details and fake plane tickets. This crime is said to cost airlines $1billion a year.
And you’ve heard of this one – you arrive at that dream villa to find the owner’s never heard of you, and you sent your cash to a chillingly plausible conman.
Merry Christmas and Bah Humbug!
Here’s a few tips to help consumers out:
Don’t fall for the “Pay Now, Travel Later” Schpeel. Some scams may want you to pay upfront in order to get any information about your “trip”. And once you do give up information, there’ll be even more restrictions that will cost you to get over those hurdles. Instead, refunds may be possible in some cases, so booking through legitimate travel organizations, paying the extra for the possibility of a refund just might be worth it.
Be extremely skeptical about unsolicited email, and/or phone solicitations saying you’ve been selected to receive a fabulous vacation. Unless you’ve won a legitimate contest, vacations aren’t free (believe me if that were true I’d be making my living traveling the world FOR FREE).
Do a bit of homework. Some offers might sound great on the surface, but be sure to read the fine-print. Certain offers impose so many restrictions, like black-out dates and companion fees, chances of you ever taking that vacation within your booked time off and budget, are pretty slim.
Business Need to Be Fraud Aware Too.
I came across a report done by Deloitte, Deloitte Airline Fraud Report 2010. Like any industry, the airlines suffer fraud too. And like any industry, and their organizations, surveys reveal that one of the best ways to help prevent fraud starts with policies and procedures either being put in place (if they don’t exist), or those that do exist should dusted off.
The Code of Conduct outlines specific behaviors that are required or prohibited as a condition of ongoing employment. A Code of Ethics behaves like the Constitution with general principles to guide behavior, outlining a set of principles that affect decision-making of employees. And an important part, other than the “follow the rules part”, is the “what happens when rules are broken” part. This needs to be consistent throughout the policy.
Perhaps this is a good time to ‘give the gift’ of whistleblowing to your employees. Give them an avenue where they can report on any Grinch type behaviour percolating throughout the office. That could in turn give you the gift of detecting a potential fraud time bomb waiting to go off. It’s a win-win.
Fraud happens in all industries. It’s how you prevent it that counts. Employee tips are the #1 method of detecting fraud, according the ACFEs Report to the Nations. What you need to do is equip your team with the tools to let you know about fraud before it gets out of hand. That’s where a whistleblower culture comes in handy.