How Event Owners Can Combat Registrants’ Fears of Online Fraud | Sports Destination Management

How Event Owners Can Combat Registrants’ Fears of Online Fraud

Nov 06, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Online payment for sports events is the norm but a recent report from TransUnion showed that more than half of consumers (54 percent, in fact) are concerned with being victimized by fraud as we head into the holiday season. And, Chain Store Age reports, that figure is up nearly 20 percent over last year.

The news isn’t helping. CNN reported that in early October, the public websites of more than a dozen U.S. airports (including some of the largest and busiest) were knocked offline by Russian hackers. (The same organization also hacked a U.S. government website around the same time).

In late August, the news broke that a hacker had targeted travel and hotel companies with a link for fake reservations; those who clicked on that link unwittingly allowed the hacker to gain access to systems, perform surveillance, steal key data and eventually siphon money from customers.

Hackers also have the potential to make money by using, or even selling, stolen credit card information, Other ways for unscrupulous individuals to make money would be to sell or use the stolen credit card details, sell personal identification information, blackmail high-interest individuals or sell access to the compromised hotel's network to ransomware gangs.

None of these scenarios can inspire confidence, and there certainly are multitudinous other examples, but it all comes down to this question: What steps can event owners take to make sure their systems are safe as we head into the holiday tournament season. Even more, what steps can they take to reassure registrants, and to help them keep their own data safe, as well? Speaker Exchange Agency has the following two recommendations:

Secure devices by keeping anti-virus and anti-malware software running and up to date on your company’s laptops and mobile devices. Use a password manager, which will generate complex, secure, and unique passwords for every site and service you use. Just as importantly, remind event participants to do the same. Post event security information around the venue or include reminders in your event’s literature.

Secure networks. Remember that open wi-fi networks allow anyone to see and access data. Using those networks is asking for trouble. Instead, take steps to set up a hidden wi-fi network and provide your attendees with the name and password to connect. It’s not foolproof but it does knock down the likelihood of having people join an open source – and getting hacked.

Unfortunately, hackers are everywhere and travelers, who are rushing to get online, are a prime target. All that all the way back in 2018, we learned that airport terminals were the new happy hunting grounds for hackers, who would set up spoof Wi-Fi accounts and lull travelers into connecting to them.

Your attendees’ and employees’ information is critically important to keep private, but there are plenty of other things hackers are after, including frequent flyer miles accounts (believe it or not, there is a black market for them on the dark web, according to this article, which also talks about how to safeguard such data).

HackerThe fact is, of course, that spoof accounts can be set up anywhere, including sports venues, and constant vigilance is required to keep people safe.

Advance reports on holiday shopping are one lens through which consumers’ views can be seen. Shoppers are showing a markedly positive view of additional identity verification measures, such as two-step authentication.

Additionally, remind attendees to work directly with the hotel – or with your housing company – in making their reservations, and to report (and not interact with) any entity who e-mails them, claiming to be able to make reservations on their behalf. (These “room pirates” or “room block poachers” have also been known to steal attendees’ data).

Unfortunately, say industry expert, with sports tourism responding to pent-up demand, it’s likely that hackers will find fertile ground – that is, unless owners and rights holders take steps to prevent it, and take further steps to educate their athletes and families.

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