Part 3 in a three-part series.
Fraud’s the name, prevention is the game. In Part 1 of our series dealt with numerous “red flags” that should immediately trigger your suspicion when dealing with clients, Part 2 explored recent schemes and best practices for preventing fraud. Today, we’ll explore the worst case scenario: what to do when you’re a victim of fraud.
Document your actions
Before you can effectively combat fraud as a crime, you need to have a record of what you’ve done vs. what your client has done. Gather all your documented actions (e-mails, phone calls, texts, faxes, etc.) as well as any client responses.
Report the problem to your host
Montrose Travel has hosted independent contractors for more than 40 years and has more than 500 ICs, each with his or her own client base. Yet, we’ve never had to make a claim against our Errors & Omissions insurance. How can that be?
The secret is in swift communication between our ICs and our support team. We counsel each and every one of our independent travel professionals to immediately report chargebacks, instances of credit-card fraud, or debit memos. As a host and a retail travel agency, we have deep resources to help battle these problems. If you find yourself the victim of fraud, do not delay in giving the details to your host agency. Don’t go it alone.
Report the problem to ARC
ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation) is an excellent resource for all things fraud-related in the travel industry. It trains regularly on fraud prevention—and the more you report fraudulent activity, the better ARC can help law enforcement to track, identify, and prosecute criminals. Report any suspicious phishing emails or fraudulent activity directly to ARC at email@example.com. If it’s GDS-related, report the issue to your GDS help desk as well.
Report the problem to the authorities
Filing a report with your local, state, and/or federal authorities will provide you with leverage later on, especially if you wind up in a legal dispute.
File a suit against the fraudster
With any luck, you’ll have been able to protect yourself well enough that going to court is not necessary. However, if that is not the case you can consider filing a suit against your fraudster. Small claims suits are generally for damages amounting to less than $10,000 and can be done (albeit with a lot of legwork) without a lawyer. Damages beyond that should involve the help of a lawyer, or can be split into multiple small claims suits depending on the situation. Our suggestion: let hiring a lawyer be a final resort. Legal fees can often wind up being more expensive than the amount you’re suing for.
Whether preventing credit card fraud, chargebacks, or the evil debit memos we all dread, you can play defense in many ways when it comes to fraud protection for your travel agency. We hope this fraud prevention series has helped give your agency and pocketbook the protection they deserve.
Emily Peters is the business development manager of Montrose Travel.