If you’re planning on taking a break this upcoming Easter holiday but have not booked holiday accommodation yet, you have to be extra wary of scammers and con-artists as fraudsters often target people who are desperate to secure last minute travel and accommodation.
According to Sahil Mungar from FNB’s digital banking, last-minute travel bookers should expect to pay a premium, not a discounted rate.
“Fraudsters exploit potential holiday makers by falsely advertising holiday accommodation or timeshares on the internet and social media. Consumers are then deceived to pay upfront in order to secure their bookings. This further gives scammers an opportunity to request ID copies and bank details of their victims, which are then used for identity theft,” Mungar warns.
When consumers become desperate to secure holiday travel and accommodation, they can easily overlook scams due to the pressure, only to find out that they’ve been defrauded when they get to the venue.
Linking into online scams is one of SA’s major pitfalls – cybercrime. Card payments and data sharing within the travel and tourism industry are heavily under scrutiny as cyber-attacks, phishing scams and data breaches become more frequent and sophisticated. According to PCI Security Standards Council General Manager Stephen Orfei, South Africa’s blossoming entrepreneurial landscape has unfortunately seen it become “one of the top ten markets targeted for cyber security weakness”.
The hospitality industry is the second-most targeted of all industries when it comes to cyber crime. In South Africa, this is an issue especially. Andrew Henwood, CEO of SA-based QSA Company Foregenix also told Traveller24 that “the risk is largely due to SA having leapfrog in terms of technology and innovation.” According to Foregenix, “the hospitality is not fully appreciating the value of the data that they’re handling, which means it’s not necessarily secured opening it up to exploitation by criminals”.
Travellers can protect themselves from cybercrime by reaching out to banks, service providers, online or offline merchants, questioning where your data is shared.
“Watch where your card goes,” Henwood warns. “If you are giving that card information across the phone, ask them what will be done with the data and how long it will be stored.
“Know the risk factors, as most common scams include phishing, have become extremely sophisticated and convincing.”
After three children were intercepted by immigration officers at OR Tambo International Airport on 29 March, SA’s Department of Home Affairs released a statement saying that a “male individual was prevented from departing the country with three children with fraudulently acquired travel documents”.
The DHA warned of an increase in immigration security ahead of Easter, saying that a total of 15 cases of human trafficking have been reported this year alone, including the cases which occurred on 29 March.
According to the Home Affairs minister at the time, speaking at SA’s largest airport hub OR Tambo International Airport, the DHA “will continue to weed out corrupt elements in our Department, in our Government and indeed, in our society precisely because we are of the firm belief that corruption and fraud have no place in our existence”.