Airlines Grapple with Escalating Loyalty Program Deception
Airlines Grapple with Escalating Loyalty Program Deception

Image: Ross Parmly (unsplash)

Deceitful actors have notably exploited weak points in air miles and customer service systems across the EU, the UK, and the US.

In 2022, the incidence of loyalty scheme deceptions increased by 30%, affecting over 75 airlines and involving more than 2000 nefarious resources, as highlighted in a report released by Group-IB.

A prevalent method these deceitful actors use involves exploiting customer service channels. These con artists pose as airline representatives using fabricated phone numbers. Unsuspecting individuals are coaxed into dialing these numbers, thinking they are making reservations or seeking reimbursements.

In doing so, these individuals inadvertently share their financial details, including credit card information. There are even instances where these culprits have tried to deploy remote access Trojans (RATs) onto the devices of their targets, aiming to obtain privileged access to confidential data.

Deceptive techniques also involve the creation of fake websites, which allure victims with tempting rewards or giveaways. Upon entering these fabricated sites, people unknowingly hand over their personal details, which are subsequently misused by the perpetrators.

These deceptive actions affect a broad spectrum of parties and elevate apprehensions for domestic and global security agencies, including entities like Interpol and Europol. Based on data from Europol, such malicious activities are burdening airlines with approximate yearly financial setbacks surpassing $1 billion.

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In a realm where digital threats persistently transform, it is imperative for airlines and loyalty scheme providers to prioritize the detection and thwarting of fraud.

Group-IB emphasized the importance of vigilance against fake websites, digital risk management, and the integration of anti-deception systems. These systems track abnormal account activities and detect when users fake their actual locations, all in an effort to protect the sanctity of air miles and customer service operations.

While the aviation sector aims to fortify the trust and loyalty of its clientele, countering these deceitful actors remains a relentless challenge. Persistent oversight and preemptive actions emerge as the foremost methods for both entities and individuals to shield themselves.