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Car Rental: a temptation for identity thieves

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TrustCloud | Car Rental: a temptation for identity thieves

Car rental has become an increasingly popular option for travel, both for leisure and work purposes. However, this convenience can also become an attractive target for identity thieves.


lthough not the most well-known, car rental as a means to commit identity fraud is on the rise globally. According to a study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research in 2023, there were 33 million cases of identity fraud in the United States throughout the year, representing a 13% increase from 2022. Of these cases, it is estimated that 10% were related to car rental. According to the Spanish Association of Rental Companies (AEE), identity fraud in car rental in Spain has also experienced a significant increase in recent years, fueled by the growth in tourist movement and the flexibility provided by rental platforms. According to this Association, in 2023, more than 10,000 cases were recorded, representing a 20% increase compared to the previous year. 

In the United Kingdom, the Credit Office estimates that 1 in 3 people will be a victim of identity fraud at some point in their life. Additionally, it warns that identity fraud in car rental is already one of the most common forms of this crime, causing millions of pounds in losses to rental companies every year. 

The consequences of fraud: impacts for companies and users 

Identity fraud in car rental can unleash devastating consequences for both the affected individuals and the involved companies. For victims, the impacts spread in various directions. Firstly, they face profound financial damages as they may be held responsible for paying for the rental of the usurped vehicle, as well as for any associated damage or loss, even if they did not use the car themselves. Moreover, identity fraud can leave an indelible mark on their credit history, making it difficult to obtain loans, credit, or even seek employment. Emotional distress also adds to the picture, as resolving an identity fraud case involves a lengthy, tedious, and highly stressful process for the victims. 

On the other hand, car rental companies also face specific repercussions. Economically, they suffer direct losses due to the unauthorized rental of their vehicles, as well as the costs associated with repairs, replacements, and the investigation of fraud itself. Furthermore, reputation damage is a critical factor; a single incident of identity fraud can tarnish the company’s image and deter potential customers from using their services. This erosion of consumer trust can have long-term effects on the commercial viability of the company. Additionally, the risk of facing litigation and lawsuits from fraud victims represents an additional burden for companies, adding legal complexity and potential extra costs. 

Peak season: A breeding ground for fraud 

Holiday and summer seasons are peak times for identity fraud in car rental worldwide. The increase in rental demand, coupled with the influx of tourists and travelers, creates an ideal environment for criminals to operate. 

Fortunately, there are various measures that both customers and rental companies can take to prevent identity fraud: 

  • For customers: 

Protect personal data: Do not share personal information with strangers or on untrustworthy websites. 

Monitor bank accounts: Regularly check bank statements and credit cards for any fraudulent activity. 

Immediately report any suspicious activity: If you suspect you have been a victim of identity fraud, it is important to report it immediately to the authorities and the affected financial institutions. 

  • For rental companies: 

Implement identity verification measures: Request valid identification documents and verify their authenticity through databases and specialized tools. 

Utilize fraud detection technology: Implement systems that can identify patterns of suspicious activity and alert employees. 

Train staff: Train employees on how to identify and prevent identity fraud, as well as on the procedures to follow if a case is detected. 

  • Additional recommendations: 

Rent from reputable companies: Choose car rental companies with a good reputation and that implement security measures to protect their customers’ data. 

Read the contract carefully: Before signing the rental contract, it is crucial to carefully read all terms and conditions to understand the rights and responsibilities of both parties. 

Keep copies of documentation: Keep copies of all documentation related to the car rental, such as the contract, receipts, and statements. 

Identity verification technologies once again key 

Solutions that enable quick and secure validation of customer identities reduce the risk of criminals using stolen or falsified information to rent a vehicle. 

Precision is the cornerstone upon which the effectiveness of identity verification technologies relies. It’s crucial that these tools can distinguish between legitimate users and potential fraudsters. 

To achieve this, various methods are employed, such as document analysis, biometric verification, and cross-checking data in public and private databases. 

Protecting customers’ personal information is paramount, so identity verification technologies must be designed to collect and process only the necessary data to validate identity. In this regard, identity wallets based on verifiable credentials are a strategy that promises to change the game, protecting and empowering users. It’s essential that these tools implement robust security measures to safeguard data against unauthorized access and leaks. 

The identity verification process should not pose a barrier for legitimate customers. The technologies employed should be as robust as they are agile and efficient, enabling a quick and seamless rental experience. Excessive wait times can lead to customer dissatisfaction and negatively impact the company’s image. 

Collaboration between companies, authorities, and consumer organizations is key to developing effective strategies and sharing best practices in the fight against fraud. Only through a firm commitment to security and customer data protection can the car rental sector, as well as hotel reservations or airline ticketing, maintain trust and thrive in the digital society. 

Discover TrustCloud’s tailored solutions for rapid identity verification 

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