A travel security expert has warned the global recession caused by COVID-19 is likely to create a spike in petty and digital crimes committed against business travellers.
Security director at World Travel Protection, Rodger Cook believes that as the economy becomes more depressed, and people continue to lose their jobs and work reduced hours, they will be looking for new avenues to make money.
“It’s important to consider the potential for businesses and individuals to be the victims of fraud,” Cook said.
“COVID-19 has seen an increase in fraudsters plying their trade. There have been instances of COVID-19 specific fraud; an increase in general fraud and theft affecting companies; and fraud in respect to different government support measures.”
Specific scams related to COVID-19 have included fraudsters posing as WHO officials asking for personal details, which they then later exploit.
According to Cook, business travellers are likely to be the biggest targets because, with leisure travel currently suspended in most countries, they’re among the few people still going overseas.
While business travellers are exposed to fraud, Cook also foresees crimes such as hotel room theft, and possibly kidnappings, increasing in certain destinations.
As with any COVID-19 related issue, knowledge is the best defence. Cook recommends upskilling staff and equipping them with information to protect themselves.
“At World Travel Protection, we’re fortunate to have terrific intelligence that is constantly being updated,” Cook said.
“A lot of businesses, particularly SMEs, don’t necessarily have the resources to identify threats and make informed decisions that enable travel to continue.
“Our corporate clients are able to access our Travel Assist Risk Management Portal and read up-to-date information provided by our analysts, which they can then take away and incorporate into their own risk-management processes.”
“The world’s not the same at the moment and every country has restrictions in place. It’s important we are aware of these restrictions, so we can be in a position to take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.
“One minute I could be speaking to a University about how best to support their international students, the next might be a mining company about opening up operations in Ecuador.
“With the right information at hand, we are able to make informed decisions, which allows for a successful return to ‘business as usual’.”
Featured image source: iStock/mattjeacock
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