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BBB Tip of the Week: Airline travel scams

Airline travel scams are abundant, and the BBB wants you to be aware of a few common ones.

Two arrive through the mail. The first is a letter claiming you have won two free round-trip airline tickets. They use real or look-alike airline names and encourage a call to a toll-free number to collect your prize. If you call, you are asked for personal information to process the prize. However, the scammer is collecting information that can be used to steal your identity.

Another is a postcard claiming you have won airline tickets for anywhere in the contiguous U.S. This is actually a pitch for a high-pressure sales presentation. Some presentation attendees reported not receiving airline tickets as promised or that the tickets were for a few select cities.

Two other scams arrive by email. One claims you have won free airline tickets,. Another is a fake airline ticket order confirmation. But the emails have links that, once clicked, will install spyware or malware on your computer or mobile device. The BBB has some tips to help you safeguard against these scams.

• Research the company, whether an airline or travel-related business, on the letter, postcard or email.

• The Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act ensures that when you win a prize, you don’t have to pay fees or buy something to receive it. The BBB warns that you may have to pay taxes on winnings to the IRS, but you shouldn’t have to pay “tax fees” to receive the prize.

Also, you can refuse to accept a prize, especially if you determine that the taxes you would have to pay for receiving the prize isn’t offset by the prize’s worth.

• If you didn’t book a flight or enter a contest for airline tickets, then you should never click any links or download attachments from the unexpected email.

• When in doubt, contact the airline directly to determine if the booking or prize is legitimate or a scam.

To research businesses or file a complaint, please contact the BBB at or call 509-455-4200.

Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor

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