The festive season is fast approaching, bringing Christmas carols on the radio, increased occupancies and unfortunately the risk of fraudulent guests. Whilst this is mostly an exciting time of year, cybercrime historically increases during the busy Christmas period. Hoteliers busily looking after their guests, can often fall victim to scammers. Bookings may be accepted without the identity verification of your potential guests. So what should you be looking out for and how can you keep your business protected during these busy times?
These days, the majority of the interaction between guests and hoteliers is performed online or over the phone. Whilst this makes life easier for both the hotelier and the guest, it can leave you open to vulnerabilities. The autonomy that this provides for the guest is often misused by unethical people. The booker could essentially be anyone, using a fake identity because at this stage they are ‘faceless’ to you and there has been no verification of their identity. Whilst we like to believe most people are genuine, there are times where people may attempt to use a stolen or fraudulent credit card to make a booking.
Christmas is a time when you are busiest, with 1001 jobs to be achieved in any given day. With the phone ringing off the hook, you may not pay the same level of detail to matters as you usually would and unfortunately scammers may turn this opportunity to their advantage. It can be financially straining, embarrassing, and extremely time-consuming to have to deal with a fraudulent booking. When inventory is tied up with fake bookings, legitimate revenue opportunities are lost. There can be an increased workload when banks debit your bank account some weeks after the event. You can endure embarrassment by having to explain to the apartment owner that you were outsmarted by a fraudster and now have to ask the owner for money back. Not to mention that with the added stress of COVID-19, scams increased by 13% in the last year alone. The Australian Cyber Security Centre advised they had received one cybercrime report every eight minutes over the 12 months to June 30, 2021.
Luckily for hoteliers, there are strategies you can implement to help protect yourself from such crimes. The best way to protect yourself is by having a PMS with an authentication feature such as Instant Identity Verification. This is a simple yet extremely beneficial tool that allows you to instantly verify the legitimacy of the card holder over the phone whilst you are speaking with them. This tool works by automatically sending an SMS or email verification link to the guest that must be accepted prior to finalising the reservation. If the guest can’t verify the booking using this security method, the booking can be declined. This has proven immensely effective in preventing scam bookings before they become the inevitable nightmare. It also teaches the fraudster that your property is a no go opportunity because of the security you have in place.
Instant Identity Verification allows you to outsmart the potential scammer by getting indisputable authority from them at the time of the booking, leaving no room for credit card disputes down the track.
After such a turbulent year, it is time for a carefree Christmas. If your PMS has not kept up with the times of stranger danger, then now is the time to find one that has!
We regularly post alerts and advice to help protect your business, including these recent blogs about how to spot a fake email and the dark web so make sure you sign up to receive our blog posts and keep ahead of potential threats to your business data.
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