With the increase of new technologies, social media platforms, and social media presence, business travelers are risking kidnapping, burglary and even industrial espionage by documenting their trips on social media.
In a 2018 study conducted by international market research agency 2hm, called International Travel Management Study 2018 it was determined that “Insta-Bragging” is a strong trend in fast-growing countries, and out of 2180 business travelers from 24 countries, 13 percent admitted to posting “often” on their social media channels.
According to the study, numerous updates can put travelers and their companions at risk of kidnapping whether it’s from extortion and terrorism. Kidnappers can easily identify and track potential victims through social media.
This has resulted in a rise in the Kidnap and Ransom Phone Scam, according to Detective Timothy Lohman, who solves forgery, fraud and financial crimes in Southern California. The recent rise in the kidnap scam lead Detective Lohman to issue a public safety warning about how this scam works:
You receive a phone call, generally from outside the area code, from someone who claims to have kidnapped someone in your family. The scammer will demand a ransom be paid or the family member will be injured or killed. The scammer will go to the extent of having someone scream in the background to make the kidnapping more believable.
The scammer requests the ransom be paid by purchasing a re-loadable gift card or through wire transfer services like Western Union or Money Gram. The scammer will go through great lengths to keep you on the phone while you purchase the re-loadable card or make the wire transfer and will make threats if you attempt to hang up the phone.
“These scammers play on people’s fears and emotions,” Detective Lohman said. “If someone says they have a loved one of yours and you hear a scream, it’s going to get your anxiety up because you’re worried.”
How do they get your information? Usually, the Internet.
The following are important factors to keep in mind and measures to take to avoid being kidnapped during your next business trip:
- Don’t assume you’re immune because you’re not rich.
Executives and their families are frequent targets.
- Do not share your flight information.
EVER. If you must share it do it once you have returned from your trip. Sharing it puts your home and office at risk of burglary.
- Keep your plans to yourself.
Ask around your friends and family about what you should visit on your next business trip’s location, just don’t let them know that you’re planning on visiting soon.
- Make meetings confidential.
Do not make public social media posts. Ask people to meet up with you directly by messaging them.
- Wait to post those business trip pics.
Post information about your trip until you’re home. Text, photos, and video included. Similarly, do not “check in” to locations far from home.
Think twice before you post
The urge to share is strong, but does the world needs to know you left your home unattended? Think about what you put on social media and understand the platform you’re using. Are you helping cybercriminals target you or a work colleague for a like or share?
These best practices can help you protect yourself, your family and company while traveling.
You can also download a PDF version of the Business Travel Best Practices here.