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Australian Travelers Alert - Protect Yourself from Increasing Online Booking Scams.In an alarming revelation that has shaken the Australian travel industry to its core, a report released by Akamai underscores a significant spike in online booking scams, exposing thousands of Australians to financial risks and losses. In the past year alone, Australians have witnessed an unprecedented surge in fraudulent activities, with losses mounting to a staggering $3.1 billion in 2022, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This sharp increase in scam activities signals a distressing trend that travellers must navigate cautiously.

The sophistication of these scams has been notably demonstrated through a series of incidents involving popular booking platforms such as Booking.com and Airbnb. Akamai’s detailed analysis last year uncovered a meticulously organized infostealer campaign. In this elaborate scheme, scammers masquerading as legitimate hotels engaged unsuspecting customers through booking sites. By compelling customers to “re-confirm their credit card details,” the attackers successfully stole sensitive information. This three-step assault—execution of the infostealer, direct contact with the victim, and the eventual theft of the victim’s data—highlights the advanced tactics employed by modern-day cybercriminals.

Akamai’s report highlights several red flags that could help travellers identify potential scams. One notable tactic includes urgent language, a classic phishing technique designed to provoke immediate action by threatening reservation cancellations. Additionally, the report warns of suspicious URLs, pointing out that legitimate booking sites do not typically send confirmation requests via external links.

In response to this escalating threat, Akamai offers a comprehensive set of verification tips to safeguard consumers from falling prey to these scams. Among the most critical pieces of advice is the caution against clicking on unsolicited links, no matter how genuine they appear. Akamai also emphasizes the importance of contacting companies directly through official channels, such as email or phone numbers on legitimate websites, to verify the authenticity of any dubious messages.

Moreover, the report advises travellers to remain vigilant against messages that employ urgent or threatening language, urging immediate action. Scrutinizing URLs for authenticity and employing reputable security software and cloud services are additional measures recommended to enhance individual protection against these cyber threats.

This report from Akamai highlights the evolving nature of scams targeting travellers and serves as a crucial resource for individuals looking to navigate the complexities of online bookings safely. By adhering to the outlined precautions and staying informed about potential red flags, Australian travellers can significantly reduce their risk of becoming the next victims of these increasingly sophisticated online scams.

As the travel industry and consumers grapple with this rising tide of cybercrime, the insights provided by Akamai’s report offer a beacon of hope. Through education and vigilance, it is possible to outmaneuver the tactics of scammers and ensure that the joy of travel remains untarnished by the shadow of fraud.




Written by: Charmaine Lu