Fraud Alert

First-Time Passengers or Unsolicited Corporate Accounts Could Be High Risk

Never rely on the credit card approval/authorization code to authenticate the validity of credit cards from unknown customers.

A man continues to contact travel agents stating that he represents a company (for example: talent or engineering company) in need of a travel agent to fulfill requests for airline ticketing, found the contacted agency in the phone book or was referred by one of your customers and wants to purchase an airline ticket. Sometimes the first ticket requested is a benign domestic ticket, e.g., ATL to MIA, or JFK to LAX. These types of tickets are the "straw" purchase. After the straw purchase, the gentlemen may call or email again requesting additional tickets for company employees or family members. These tickets are for international departures—often using more than one credit card.

Once you become suspicious of the number of tickets, credit cards being used and/or the international departures, it may be too late, as you later discover that all the credit cards have been compromised. One travel agency came to that conclusion after it had issued more than $160,000 in compromised credit card tickets; more than $400,000 in compromised credit cards has been attributable to these schemes.

What to consider as high risk:

  • Non-local company approaching you to do international tickets for immediate departure
  • Third-party transactions (caller/emailer/passenger and cardholder are not the same)
  • The company representative has an email account from a free email provider, e.g., yahoo, etc., instead of a company domain
  • International departures (mostly African and South American airports, i.e., ACC, ABJ, LOS, CMN, BOG, LIM, EZE, GRU) and high dollar tickets
  • Use of multiple credit cards

Consider using ARC's Red Flags list to determine the risk before you issue tickets. To find the Red Flags list, click the Best Practice tab on the Fraud Prevention space on My ARC's landing page. Provide a copy of the Red Flags document to each of your frontline staff, including full- and part-time employees and independent contractors.

If you suspect such a scheme, you can contact ARC's fraud prevention team at any time at 855-358-0393 or fifp@arccorp.com.

About ARC:
ARC powers the U.S.-based travel industry with premier business solutions, travel agency accreditation services, process and financial management tools, and powerful data analytics. In 2013, ARC settled $86 billion worth of carrier ticket transactions for more than 9,400 travel agencies with 13,000 points of sale. By providing world-class business services and products, ARC enables participating agencies and 200 carriers to focus on what's important—increasing their revenue. Established in 1984, ARC is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. For more information, please visit www.arccorp.com.