Airline travel is back in full swing, but scammers are taking advantage of increased flight cancellations with a new
con. BBB Scam Tracker has received multiple reports of scammers creating fake airline ticket booking sites or
customer service numbers to charge travelers for rescheduling fake flights. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
reminds consumers to use caution and double-check the URL or phone number before providing payment or
personal information before purchasing tickets.
How the scam works
While doing an online search for cheap flights, you come across what seems like a great deal with a major airline.
You book the flight, either through the website or by calling a customer support number. However, shortly after
making the payment, you receive a call from the company saying there's been a sudden price increase or an
extra charge to finalize your booking. It turns out that you accidentally purchased tickets through a scam website
or a phony customer service number. The price increase is a way to get more money out of you.
In another version of the scam, your original flight was real, but the cancellation notice is fake. You get an email or
text message claiming that your upcoming flight has been canceled and you need to rebook. When you call the
number provided, the “airline” offers to book you a new ticket – for a price. However, if you follow up with real
airline support, you’ll discover that nothing was wrong with your original flight. The message was a scam, and you
just gave your credit card details to a con artist.
One victim told BBB Scam Tracker: "I thought that I bought airline tickets with United Airlines through a company
that sells at discounted prices. They called me shortly after I bought my tickets and said that the flight had been
canceled. They wanted permission to put me on another flight with Southwest and said it would be 80 dollars
extra… It turned out that United Airlines never canceled a flight. I tried to call this company and leave a message,
and I tried to email them to no avail. It turns out that the airlines were unaware of this ticket purchase.”
“Scammers always try to jump on trends”, Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB in Central East
Texas said. “In this case, they are certainly using the surge in flight cancellations to their advantage.”
BBB provides the following tips on avoiding 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 for reviews and feedback from previous customers.
Double check flight details before calling support. Scammers are blasting out fake airline cancellation emails
and text messages that can easily be mistaken for the real deal. Confirm the information in the message – such
as the flight and reservation numbers – is correct before calling customer support.
Confirm the URL before you enter personal and payment information. It can be easy to click on a sponsored
ad or impostor website without noticing. Before entering any sensitive information, double-check that you are on
the right website and that the link is secure. (Secure links 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 or physical address. Typos and
grammatical errors can be indications of a scammer’s handiwork.
Make online purchases with your credit card. Fraudulent charges on a credit card can usually be disputed,
whereas that might not be the case with other payment methods. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back the
personal information you may have shared.
Consider using a travel agent. In the event something goes wrong, your trusted agent would act as your
advocate and would remedy the situation. For a trusted travel agent near you, go to bbb.org.
For more information
For ways to protect yourself from travel scams, go to BBB.org/Travel. Read more about customer service number
scams.Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB's weekly Scam Alert emails.
If you’ve been a victim of an airline ticket or other travel scam, please report your experience
at BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so, you can help others to avoid falling prey to scammers.
About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest
business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business
Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational
information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was
founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.