Fraud for the purchase of tourist packages in Jalisco has increased up to 200 percent in the last three years, reported the president of the Mexican Association of Western Travel Agencies (AMAV), Juan Felipe Lozano Rodríguez.
“I believe that, without fear of being wrong, the number of frauds has increased by more than 200 percent, and since we fell into a pandemic, the national network has within what is the cybernetic police, in what is continuity of fraud, a way to seek prevention of them (to combat the problem)”, he assured.
Every hour 7.91 cyber frauds are registered in Jalisco, and 250 at the national level since the beginning of the health emergency, the amount of what they steal ranges between $2,000 and $37,000 thousand pesos.
The president of the AMAV of the West pointed out that in most cases the “ghost agencies” offer quite affordable packages, which serve as an anchor to trap customers. In addition to the fact that the travel agency services are not regulated. “You want to sell trips, you don’t need experience, we just talk on the phone and tell you how. I think a lot of people have that intent to generate that fraud,” he said.
It is during the holiday periods, such as Easter and Holy Week, when fraud in travel agencies tends to increase. Given this situation, Lozano Rodríguez recommended that consumers check that the agency in which they are going to acquire their tourist package is registered with an association or institution, in order to have guarantees in the event that this type of situation arises.
“My recommendation would be to purchase with an agency that is affiliated with an association or some institution that is supporting it because, after all, we are the ones that verify that they meet the minimum requirements and that they are registered with the General Secretariat of Tourism and obviously have a registration with the SAT; the easiest way, if we want to buy a package, is that we give an invoice; by giving you an invoice we imply that we have all the legal elements to be able to generate a claim; in the case of any fraud and we are also going to guarantee that it exists,” said the president of AMAV de Occidente, who added that 44 companies with all online requirements are registered in his association.
Currently, within the association, there is a directory of travel agencies, which is endorsed by the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce, the State Tourism Secretariat, and other local institutions, where you can check which agencies are safe to buy.
On the other hand, he pointed out that before making the purchase of the package they communicate directly with the hotel and/or airline to ensure that the prices and promotions coincide with those offered by the agencies and that the status of the place is in reserve.
According to the cybersecurity firm Fortinet, during the past year, there were 3.1 billion attempted cyberattacks between tourism companies, financial institutions, among others, derived from the pandemic, confinement measures, and remote work.
After three years of low sales of tourist packages in the entity, the numbers have been on the rise, since so far this holiday period has registered an increase of up to 80 percent compared to the last year, according to the president of the AMAV of the West.
“The truth is that the previous year was more than difficult, the year was quite a challenge, people were still afraid to travel, we continued with the most severe restrictions and the acquisition of the packages meant that we were reserving with cancellations and postponing,” said Lozano Rodríguez.
Most of the packages offered by travel agencies have Puerto Vallarta as their main destination; however, during the last days there has been an increase in destinations such as Cancun, Los Cabos, Oaxaca, and Mexico City, this at the national level; while internationally complete packages have been sold to places like Dubai, Turkey, and Egypt.
One of the travel agencies that has had a great highlight this year has been Travel City, whose sales so far this Easter have increased by up to 70 percent compared to last year.
Each agency handles different packages and services, but all have had significant increases in their sales, and more so now that the state government’s restrictions have been reduced.
How to avoid being a victim of tourist offer fraud?
- Before making the purchase of the tourist package, you must communicate directly with the hotel and/or airlines to ensure that the prices and promotions are authentic.
- Verify that the travel agency where the package is going to be purchased is registered with an association or organization so that the sale is safe.
- Check that the agency has a registration with the SAT, request an invoice and check to see if an RFC number is provided, their taxpayer registration number.
- Always demand an invoice from the seller to guarantee the purchase of the package, and in case of fraud have the necessary elements to be able to sue.
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