Travel Scams Could Increase Up To 900%, Warns Booking.com

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Travellers are being warned by Booking.com that artificial intelligence (AI) will drive an increase in travel scams.

The internet safety boss from Booking.com, Marnie Wilking revealed in the last 18 months, there had been “anywhere from a 500 to a 900% increase.”

She revealed there was a specific increase in phishing, which is where individuals are tricked into providing their financial details, since generative AI tools arrived.

“Of course, we’ve had phishing since the dawn of email, but the uptick started shortly after ChatGPT got launched. The attackers are definitely using AI to launch attacks that mimic emails far better than anything that they’ve done to date.”

Phishing attacks attempt to convince individuals to fork over their card details by sending fake but convincing internet booking links.

Scammers target websites like Booking.com and Airbnb because they allow people to list their own places.

Once someone pays, the scammer is either gone, leaving the buyer without a place to stay, or will try and scam more money out of them with follow-up messages.

Although these scams have been around for ages, there are usually tell-tale signs they’re fraudulent, such as grammatical and spelling errors.

Screenshot 2024 06 21 092707 Travel Scams Could Increase Up To 900%, Warns Booking.com

Wilking said AI was making it harder to detect these scams as it can generate realistic images and accurate text in multiple languages.

She has advised hotels and travellers to use two-factor authentication, which includes an additional security check, as it is “the best way to combat phishing and credential stealing.”

She has also urged individuals to be more wary when clicking on links.

She also revealed that AI was also allowing Booking.com to rapidly remove fake hotels that attempted to scam people.

“We’ve set up AI models to detect those and either block them from getting on there to begin or take it down before there’s any booking.”

A consumer expert in the travel industry, Jane Hawkes revealed travel providers should “step up efforts” to alert people of the scams.

“They also have a responsibility to advise travellers ways to minimise the risk of being scammed.” She also revealed individuals should do their research “with due diligence” to avoid being scammed.

“Check that contact details are readily available on websites and that there is a telephone number – many scam sites purposely don’t have one.”

She also recommended booking travel packages, rather than flights and accommodation separately, and to use credit cards to maximise protection.

Screenshot 2024 06 21 092730 Travel Scams Could Increase Up To 900%, Warns Booking.com

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