Australian travellers may be left stranded at the airport holding bogus airline tickets at Christmas time after suffering at the hands of scammers.
A government agency has warned Australians about cheap flight deals through fake travel websites which have travellers believing they have purchased legitimate airline tickets, but all they have done is been skimmed of their money and left vulnerable to identity theft.
With a current warning issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s SCAMwatch website (www.scamwatch.gov.au ) for flight booking scams, a national credit repairer, MyCRA’s, Graham Doessel says people could find it is more than just Christmas that is ruined.
“It’s all bad for these poor scam victims. At best they can be left with no holiday – but at worst fraudsters can take their personal details and use them to construct a fake identity which would allow them to borrow in their name – the ramifications of that can last for years,” Mr Doessel says.
SCAMwatch says it has received a number of reports of fraudulent traders who have copied the ABN and look of legitimate travel websites.
“Some victims have lost in excess of $1000 for fake international flight bookings, while others report instances of identity theft after interactions with the fake trader,” the SCAMwatch website warns.
Currently the Australian Crime Commission sites identity theft as the fastest growing crime in Australia, and a recent study presented by the Attorney-General’s office revealed 1 in 6 people have had their identity stolen or misused in some way.
Identity theft occurs when criminals use a person’s personal details, usually to obtain credit in their name. The benefits can be lucrative, gaining access to large amounts of credit – enough even to mortgage a property in the victim’s name. It is often not until the victim goes to apply for credit in their own right and are refused because of credit rating defaults they didn’t initiate, that they realise they have had their credit file misused.
“Unfortunately identity theft can turn the victim’s life upside down. Adverse listings can be difficult to have removed, simply because it is up to the victim to prove to creditors they didn’t initiate the credit,” Mr Doessel says.
MyCRA advises people to take these precautions when booking travel:
– Be wary of any offer that comes via an unsolicited email.
– For legitimate-looking websites, check the URL is correct for that company. If it looks suspicious – it may be a fake. Do the research on the airline or travel agency’s own website or contact the company directly to verify details in the offer.
– Never make the purchase through a link in an email.
– Take five minutes extra to research the company that is offering the deal to ensure they are genuine.
– If the flight seems too cheap – it may be a fake.
– For people who think they may have fallen prey to a scam, they should contact Police, and if they think their personal details may have been compromised – obtain a copy of their credit file.
Australians are able to obtain a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from one or more of the credit reporting agencies.
“If someone suspects fraud, their credit file could show changes, which if detected early, would prevent their good name from being ruined. If there are any unusual credit enquiries, or some attempt to alter personal contact details this should be a red flag. People should alert creditors to prevent their credit rating from being ruined and protect their ability to obtain credit in the future,” he says.
For more information on identity theft, people can visit the MyCRA Credit Repairs website www.mycra.com.au.
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations firstname.lastname@example.org
Graham Doessel – Director Ph 07 3124 7133
MyCRA Credit Repairs is Australia’s leader in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.