Credit card fraud and you


Most Canadians are aware that their credit card data is susceptible to fraud as evidenced by the massive theft of card data recently at retailer, Target. What many Canadian consumers may not know is their own government’s part in facilitating credit card fraud because of its Privacy Act.

The fast-growing credit card fraud epidemic is in large part fueled by hackers who break into customer databases and steal credit card numbers and customer data. Subsequently, Airline Information estimates that airline tickets represent 10% of the volume of fraudulent purchases globally made with this stolen credit card data. Airlines lost US$1.4 billion in 2011 to fraud, the last year for which figures are available. Fraudulently purchased airline tickets are used by “fraudsters” to travel in style or sold to unsuspecting consumers as “discount tickets.” Due to its Privacy Act, Canada is open for this fraud practice.

Jan-Jaap Kramer, president of the global consultancy TravelFraudGuard, says, “In the travel industry, third party travel agencies sell tickets on behalf of airlines. In Canada, when one of these parties suspects a ticket sale is fraudulent, they are afraid to communicate with the other party due to uncertainty about the Privacy Act. This communication between agencies and airlines is key to preventing this fraud. Currently, the Privacy Act is being interpreted to protect the rights of credit card thieves versus the right of a travel merchant to stop a suspected fraudulent credit card sale.”

Michael Smith, managing partner of Airline Information, goes on to say, “Fraudsters are getting away with using stolen credit cards to purchase air tickets in the Canadian market, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Word is seemingly spreading within the international criminal rings involved in credit card fraud that Canada is a soft-target, which then generates even more travel fraud.”

Researching this topic, Airline Information spoke with numerous companies selling travel in the Canada and Smith added, “We are also being told by Canadian travel companies that they are afraid to speak to law enforcement about suspected fraudulent transactions due to concerns about the Privacy Act,” which can only make Canadian travel companies and Canadian credit cardholders a further target for local and international fraudsters.

To address the Privacy Act and credit card fraud in the Canadian travel market, Airline Information is hosting the “2nd Canadian Travel Fraud Prevention Working Group” on Jan. 14 in Mississauga, Ont.

Airline Information’s Michael Smith commented, “We invited the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to attend this meeting to clarify the Privacy Act, but they declined to participate. The group will consequently be making a list of questions from the travel industry about how the Act should be interpreted in the fight against credit card fraud, which will be submitted to the Privacy Commissioner’s Office for clarification.”

To find out more about travel fraud or the “2nd Canadian Travel Fraud Prevention Working Group,” visit .