Airlines lose a boatload of cash – tens of millions of dollars a year – because of online fraud. Think about it: you pay for your pillow and to check a bag because some degenerate can’t bother to work for a living. The airlines are keeping their customers in mind (shockingly), though, and they’re fighting back. Better protection systems, increased staff and a higher priority for prevention are now on the agenda as carriers seek to protect their coffers.
The stakes are high, and airlines are exposed. A Deloitte UK survey conducted in 2009, with 50 U.S. and global airlines responding, report that 48 percent have seen increases in fraud year-over-year, with average losses of $2.4 million a year. Yet, it could be far, far worse. CyberSource and Airline Information conducted a poll and came to an estimated loss amount of $1.4 billion in 2008.
According to USA Today:
“The general feedback from everybody … is that they see it getting worse,” says Graham Pickett, partner in charge of aviation services for Deloitte UK, which conducted its survey for the International Association of Airline Internal Auditors. “The main driver has been … the Internet, and in particular credit card type bookings.”
Airlines have invested in protecting their profits over the past two years, especially the larger companies. Of course, they aren’t all that willing to talk about specific measures:
“Common sense on this issue limits a discussion of what we do to track, prevent and seek prosecution of such occurrences,” says Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines. “We’re just not interested in providing a ‘how to’ lesson on the subject.”
The cyber-attack on airlines comes after online travel agencies, such as Orbitz, steeled their systems. For a while, they were the primary targets, with Orbitz, for example, getting spanked for millions of dollars a month by fraudsters.
How much does this matter? Think about all the small cuts you’ve had to deal with as a passenger. Every dollar matters to the airlines. Cutting fraud losses is just putting cash back in your pocket.
[photo by jepoirrier via Flickr]