May 23, 2012

People around the world plan their vacations well in advance, searching the web for deals and bargains.  Just last Fall, people were getting ready to look for the best deals for a trip to England to enjoy the forthcoming Olympic Games. Cyber criminals are marketing experts and often create a deal, ad or email that is simply too good to pass up!  The result from click on the ads or communicating with the claimed travel agency can often end in financial disaster.

Hotels and resorts around the world offer their guests electronic transactions and credit card down payments, so scammers have set their eyes and expertise in this unprotected niche. It is a pristine and camp of millions of credit card account details that law enforcement and security systems seem to have overlooked. International private investigators have found that out of 1,900 cases related to phishing scams in North America in the past year, 38% involved hotels and resorts. Investigators have also seen that hackers are getting more focused to target specific sectors of the economy, in which security systems are easy to break and typically have less security.

Radisson Group is one of the most recurrent hospitality chains being hacked over and over in different locations around the world, in which Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Middle East seem to be the countries hackers have found most appealing. One of the problem hospitality chains have faced over the past four years is that phishing scams are hard to detect and when resorts and hotels find out about the crime, it is too late, as intrusions to systems are hard to spot.

U.K. private detectives say most chains do not disclose that information or report cyber crimes committed in their branches, first, because public relation managers think this could seriously damage their reputation and significantly damage their occupation rate.  Second, the hospitality industry around the world has had some very bad years since 2008, so profitably and reputation is more important than ever.  If guests are concerned that their payment or guest data won’t be safe, chances are they won’t stay at the hotel or resort, not matter what the rate.

 The truth is that hotels manage a lot of information from their customers and travelers should be warned somehow about the risks of being potential victims and having their information stolen.
Private detectives offer the following tips to have a worry free vacation:

-       When submitting data or payment, only use an https website
-       Credit cards are safer than debit cards, so use them when possible
-       Keep receipts of all your credit card purchases and ATM access
-       Check your credit card bills online if possible while traveling
-       Report any billing error or stolen credit cards immediately
-       When reserving the hotel, ask how the hotel protects your data

Safe travels, and remember to keep your private and financial data secure at all times.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2012 S. Birch

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