With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, more people are considering traveling this summer. That’s great news for summer vacation plans as well as for scammers. BBB Scam Tracker receives reports of con artists creating fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers. If you are buying airfare, use caution and double-check the URL or phone number before providing your credit card information.
How the Scam Works
In one version of this scam, you come across what seems like a great deal with a major airline. You book the flight through the website or by calling a customer support number and receiving a confirmation message. However, when you look more closely at the email, you notice that you never actually received your ticket.
In another version, you book a flight on a travel website offering deals on airfare. You pay with your credit card like usual. But shortly after making the payment, you receive a call from the company saying that there’s been a sudden price increase or an extra charge to finalize your booking.
In either case, after calling the airline to follow up about your flight, you find that they have no record of your booking. You discover that you accidentally purchased tickets through a scam website or a phony customer service number. One victim told BBB Scam Tracker: “I received a phone call right after [I booked the flight] stating that they wanted $100 per passenger to finalize my flight.” Then, after calling the airline to complain, the victim discovered that “the flight wasn’t even available, wasn’t booked, and a company just charged their card.”
BBB provides the following tips on how to avoid travel scams:
Do your research. If you come across a company you haven’t dealt with before, research it before making any purchases. Go to BBB.org for reviews and feedback from previous customers.
Double-check the URL before entering personal and payment information. All too often, consumers click on a sponsored ad or imposter website without notice, so before you enter any sensitive information, double-check that you are on the right website and that the link is secure. Secure connections start with https://and include a lock icon on the purchase page. Learn more at bbb.org/BBBSecure.
Be wary of third-party websites. Some websites appear to offer a legitimate service but are only fronts for a scam. Be suspicious of websites with no working customer service number and no physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can be indications of a scammer’s handiwork, too.
Pay with a credit card. Fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed, which may not be the case with other payment methods.
For More Information
To learn more about planning a getaway during COVID-19:
- Go to bbb.org.
- For ways to protect yourself from travel scams, go to bbb.org/Travel Scam.
- Read more about customer service number scams.
Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails.