AUSTIN, Texas — The summer travel season is upon us, and scammers are coming up with new ways to steal your money. Cybersecurity experts believe travel scams are going to continue to grow as more people get back to traveling, which could cause billions of dollars in losses from fraud.
This year’s new challenge is how ChatGPT has the potential to make travel season scams harder to detect.
"It's really leveled the playing field for scammers to leverage the technology to reduce the grammatical errors and spelling errors that we became accustomed to in the past," said Brian Ledbetter, a senior security strategist with GuidePoint Security.
Experts say ChatGPT may play a factor as a lot of folks are eager to capitalize on any cost savings they may be able to achieve with couponing and other discounts.
"Scammers are aware of that. So they're looking to defraud customers by presenting significant travel savings if they follow these steps – and those steps may lead to the loss of sensitive data or money," Ledbetter said.
If you're not expecting a message or phone call and you receive information that may sound too good to be true regarding travel, Ledbetter said it's recommended to pick up the phone – that way the information can be verified. Due to the advanced technology of artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is not.
"These scammers use phishing. They can send out emails offering $100 in gift cards and things. Most times, you don't see airlines offering any type of gift cards in your email, but you never know," Ledbetter said.
In the case that you receive something from an airline offering a gift card in exchange for booking a flight, pick up the phone or go to the airline's website directly.
"There are websites out there now that can actually capture an audio recording of a person's voice and then subsequently actually synthesize the voice according to text that is imputed into the website and leveraging that type of technology to defraud people," Ledbetter said.
Experts say due to the new technology, people may think that a loved one is reaching out to them when it actually is a scammer who captured the voice of their loved one and is trying to defraud people. In these scenarios, the best option is to contact the person directly through their phone number to verify it's truly them.