While the world works through the COVID-19 pandemic together, we’re reminded that there are opportunists that don’t do the right thing.
We’ve heard reports from tour and activity operators that have had refund requests from customers who have travelled. We’ve also heard of scams that have requested cancellation of bookings or services where no booking was ever taken. How do you spot a scammer to make sure you’re not giving back funds unnecessarily during this critical period?
Your first point of call is your manifests. If you personally hosted the tour or activity yourself, check that refunds requested are genuine. Confirm that the guest requesting the refund wasn’t checked in. If you didn’t take the tour yourself, check with your staff.
You may see some refund requests that have come through a reseller like an OTA. Some resellers offer refund policies for the full package purchased. That package could include the hotel, other experiences, rental vehicles or even flights the guest also purchased at the same time.
The guest may not have intended to cancel all of that purchase and it could be a genuine mistake. Again, review your manifest first to ensure the cancellation is fair and correct.
Emails can be a hotbed for scams. We all remember the story of the princess who was offering a large sum of money if you just provided your bank details now. Needless to say, a return on investment never came to those who chipped in. A simple way to authenticate a genuine cancellation request is to ask for an email from the email address provided at the time of booking.
Specifically for future bookings. We understand that many operators are providing vouchers or credits as an option for cancelled future bookings. If this is part of your protection strategy during COVID-19, be sure to check that you’re not receiving duplicates from both genuine guests and scammers.
Scams come in many different forms. You may receive a request for a business donation from a health care group, or family facing economic challenges due to the pandemic. Scam emails can seem very genuine and are often sophisticated. Check the URL of the business requesting the assistance and validate that they are pushing the same thing on their site.
Specifically, if you see a request for money via a social donating platform such as GoFundMe, look at the comments. Validate the cause. Most of these scenarios tend to attract local news interest. Check your local or national news for any information on the cause. If you can’t confirm via a third party then steer to the side of caution.
Norton has provided further information in a blog on online scams and coronavirus that is well worth reading.
You may also be interested in our article ‘Turning Cancellations Into Future Bookings. Email Template Included’.