Fraud tips for your festive season travel

As we head into the busy festive holiday season and post-pandemic travel is once again on the agenda, it’s important to be mindful that digital threats for travellers are increasing.

According to BDO’s Global Mid-Market Corporate Fraud Landscape Report, with 46 per cent of respondents suffering from incidents of cyber security fraud in 2021, now is the time to protect your digital footprint to help avoid potential risks.

To assist you to maintain your digital security over the festive season, BDO’s Forensic Services team has compiled the top tips to help you avoid becoming another statistic and victim of a holiday travel scam.

Fraudulent activity to be aware of while travelling

1.  Avoid 'free' Wi-Fi

'Free’ Wi-Fi is tempting, but it’s important to know that the information you share electronically can be intercepted. Your phone network is much safer than public Wi-Fi.

Avoid sending sensitive information or making sensitive calls on unsecured Wi-Fi connections and remain mindful of how you are using your devices while travelling. An international SIM or Virtual Private Network (VPN) application is preferable to avoid exposing your sensitive information through unsecured devices.

Avoid using the ‘remember me’ option for passphrase-protected websites while travelling, and ensure you log off once you are finished. We also suggest keeping Wi-Fi or other data capabilities off when you aren’t using them.

Using multi-factor authentication where available adds an extra layer of protection, as does updating your passwords before you travel to ensure they are current and complex. Do not store your passcode or passwords on your device and avoid passwords that are too simple or have been previously compromised.

If you’re worried your device may have been compromised, turn it off and use another device, change your passwords and log out of all active sessions across your online accounts.

2.  Beware of financial cloning devices with credit card readers

These devices mimic EFTPOS or ‘tap and go’ types of payment devices and scan and clone your credit card details, including the Card Verification Value (CVV), while you believe you are paying for your purchased goods or services.

To assist with identifying tampering, our experts suggest you look for signs on EFTPOS machines such as scratches around the card slot. When using your card to make a purchase at a point of sale, tap your card utilising the EMV microchip (i.e. payWave) rather than swiping your card through the magnetic chip. As the EMV chips use encrypted payment information, be particularly cautious if a reader fails and another is then produced.

Remain vigilant when using card readers, actively monitor your credit card accounts and recent transactions, and sign up with your bank or card issuer to receive alerts when potentially suspicious activity on your account occurs.

3.  Remain vigilant of scam messages

Phishing and fake text messages remain high on the list of active scams. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned of “Hi Mum” type scams in recent months, where the person impersonates a family member or friend, often claiming they are using a friend’s phone and need help. Common excuses include, “my phone is lost/stolen/damaged”, or “the battery is flat”.

Look out for scam messages, particularly if you are travelling without your children or they are travelling without you. Have an agreed process in place if children need help when travelling, such as an agreed upon word or phrase, and be mindful of messages received and always verify a request for money or assistance with a voice call. Avoid clicking on messages with links from numbers or contacts you don’t know.

BDO comment

As we head into the festive season, it’s easy to become complacent when it comes to the security of your information and devices, particularly with the added complexity of increasingly targeted scams and fraudulent activity.

The good news is that by taking a few basic steps and making it habitual, you can avoid many of the traps that capture the unwary, even during the holiday season. Maintaining a healthy scepticism around unknown or unexpected communications, especially in unfamiliar places, will pay dividends and ensure you get you to enjoy the holiday season without the stress of becoming a scam statistic.

For more information on how to keep your organisation and employees safe, please get in touch with your local forensic services expert.

The Global Mid-Market Corporate Fraud Landscape Report

The Global Mid-Market Corporate Fraud Landscape 2022 Report has been released. Learn what more than 2,000 respondents from 131 countries, including Australia, had to say about corporate fraud and explore the key fraud recommendations for organisations.

Learn more

Sources: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and