Identity crimes cost Australia more than $8.6 billion each year, affecting almost 2 million people. Of these 2 million, more than 100,000 will fall victim to identity theft.

Credit card fraud, bank account takeovers and the loss of sensitive data are just some of the damaging impacts of identity theft.

For corporate travellers, the frightening reality is that people are two to four times more likely to suffer identity theft while in transit. 

Below we explain why corporate travellers are at risk, and outline how travel managers can safeguard employees against identity crime.


Identity Crime in Australia

A 2014-2015 report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that cases of personal fraud were increasing. Credit card fraud, identity theft and scams afflicted millions of Australians, resulting in a cumulative personal loss of over $2 billion before reimbursement.

In September 2016, the chief executive of AUSTRAC, the government agency tasked with tracing financial crimes, said Australia’s prosperity had made it an attractive target for financial criminals. He cited technology as the obvious driver of the increasing rate of fraud, saying identity crime used to be a physically taxing undertaking whereas now it can be achieved “with the press of a button.”

Recent high-profile cases like the Panama Papers and the enduring Wikileaks breaches have kept cyber crime at the front of public attention. The issue is also gaining traction in the corporate travel industry, with some calling for identity protection to be included in duty-of-care.


Identity Theft in Corporate Travel

Paige Schaffer, President and COO of Generali Global Assistance’s Identity and Digital Protection unit, says travel managers must arm travelling employees with tools to protect their personal identity. She said traveller identities have been stolen in a variety of ways, including;

  • Theft of personal luggage,
  • Loss of data, including passports, licenses and corporate cards,
  • Hacking of personal information through unsecured hotel Wi-Fi,
  • Loss of mobile phones,
  • Credit card skimming.

The nomadic-but-connected nature of corporate travel, where data flows over a large geographical expanse from airport lounges to hotel rooms, is the main contributor to identity risk for business travellers.

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In May 2016, the US-based Omni Hotels & Resorts chain experienced a serious data breach, exposing guest names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and security codes.

The hotel industry is no stranger to attacks like these. In November 2015, Hilton Hotels confirmed that hackers had targeted guest’s card information at point-of-sale systems. In September 2016, Trump International Hotels Management were required to pay $50,000 to settle with New York State for a data breach that exposed over 70,000 credit card numbers.

Operating standards like the ISO 27001 Information Security Management System are becoming requisite for businesses of all sizes, as data breaches like these grow more frequent and complex.


How Can Travel Managers Protect the Security of Travelling Employees?

The health and safety of travelling employees is a high priority for travel managers. The increasing risk of identity crime, and the fact that travellers are up to four times more susceptible, can’t be overlooked.

While they sound simple, educating travel teams on fundamental data security measures is a necessary first-step in protecting employees from identity theft. These include;

  • Ensuring all devices are password protected, and email accounts require a two-step verification process,
  • Turning Bluetooth connection off when not in use,
  • Minimising public Wi-Fi use where possible,
  • Deleting apps that contain potentially sensitive information, and aren’t required during travel,
  • Staying vigilant over any sensitive physical assets carried in luggage.

Furthermore, travel managers must monitor employee safety through risk management tools, including risk alerts, travel tracking, emergency communication streams, location reporting and passport and visa control.

For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below:

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