As we enter winter and begin to fantasise about warm places to visit, the Better Business Bureau warns of an increase in travel scams.
The BBB national Scam Tracker has tracked multiple reports of travel scams involving fake airline and booking sites and phone numbers.
In 2021, BBB’s Scam Tracker had 339 reported scams involving travel. On the BBB’s Scam Tracker, the total reported loss on travel scams in 2021 exceeded $350,000. Scams range from time lost and personal security information being threatened to tens of thousands of dollars on any given report.
The majority of reports involve customers booking a flight or vacation package through what appeared to be a legitimate website or a major airline phone number.
However, after making the reservation, customers never received a confirmation email or any information about the trip. Many customers never receive reservation information. The scammers quickly contact others, claiming that the “deal” has expired or been cancelled. The scammer then offers a different deal for a higher price. Consumers are urged to provide credit card information or make larger purchases by cancelling the previous “deal” and booking another.
How to report a scam
Consumers have reported contacting the major airlines and finding out the booking information does not exist. Travelers have been stranded at airports after purchasing only one legitimate ticket. Others have reported multiple repeating charges after the initial purchase.
Tips to spot a travel scam
Before providing any payment or personal information, consumers should check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the website or contact information is from a legitimate business.
Be especially wary of websites that use third-party vendors to purchase airline tickets.
► Just because the travel site looks nice does not mean it is trustworthy.
“Regardless of who you suspect is on the phone, I would never give personal information to an unsolicited caller,” said Akron BBB President and CEO Shannon Siegferth. “Hang up if you suspect a scam. . During the aforementioned……………………… Do not let time constraints or a ‘deal’ limit your due diligence in conducting proper research on any organisation prior to purchasing.”
Siegferth also recommends reviewing a company’s website, reading reviews, and confirming that the organisation is a BBB-accredited business.
“We advise consumers to ensure the company they are looking to purchase from clearly and prominently provides a direct and effective means to contact the organisation. “It includes a phone number, a physical address, and an email address,” Siegferth explained.
As with any scam, be wary if you are asked to send money upfront, via wire transfer, or via gift card, according to the BBB. If you suspect fraudulent charges, contact your bank or other financial institution immediately. Your bank or financial institution will have an accurate account of your transactions and easily be able to know if your account has been compromised.
If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
Scammers continue to evolve and pivot with their approach. Never assume you will not become a victim of a scam. According to the BBB, scams affect people of all ages, and it is important to remember that we are all targets.
If you are aware of a scam or have been a victim of one, please report it to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker and the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov or by phone at 877-382-4357.