Taking a vacation this summer? If you book your airfare through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. BBB Scam Tracker is receiving reports of scammers pretending to be online airline ticket brokers. They cancel your airline ticket reservations, but not before charging you.
How the Scam Works
While doing an online search to find the cheapest flight to your destination, you come across a website that has a great deal. You haven’t heard of the company before, but the website looks legitimate and everything seems to be in order. When you begin the payment process, however, red flags start to appear.
In the most common version of the scam, you pay with your credit card like normal. But shortly after making the payment, you receive a call from the company asking you to verify your name, address, banking information or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do.
What makes the scam so convincing is that, once you pay, you receive a confirmation code that can be verified with the airline. However, after a day or two, your reservation will be cancelled and the company that charged you will disappear. It appears the scammers booked the flight and charged your card – only to cancel it shortly after and make off with your money.
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. Look on bbb.org reviews and feedback from earlier customers.
- Don’t cave under pressure. Many scammers pressure you to make a payment or give up your personal details, claiming you’ll lose out on a great deal or have to pay extra fees. If something doesn’t feel right, hang up and contact your credit card company. Let them know about the situation and ask them to put a hold on your payment.
- Only make purchases with your credit card. If a company asks you to pay with a pre-paid debit card or to wire funds, don’t do it. These are not standard payment methods and, if you go through with them, there will be no way to get your money back. Credit card charges, however, can be contested.
- Best practice: Use established travel websites to book your flight. Steer clear of pop-ups or unknown websites, no matter how good the deal may seem.
For More Information
If you’ve been a victim of an airline ticket or other travel scams, please report your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so you can help others to avoid falling prey to scammers.