Occasionally, we all need to get away. These days, booking that trip is as easy as turning on your computer or opening an app on your phone. But slow down for just a minute or two.
Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific wants you to use caution and be prepared if you book your airfare through a third-party website. 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 scam works
While doing an online search to find the cheapest flight to your destination, you come across a website offering 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, red flags start to appear.
In the most common version of the scam, you pay with your credit card. 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 this scam so believable is, once you pay, you receive a confirmation code that can be verified with the airline. However, after a day or two, your reservation is canceled and the company that charged you disappears. 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 it
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.
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 must 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 prepaid 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, on the other hand, can be contested.
For more information
To learn more ways to protect yourself from travel scams, read BBB.org/TravelScam. You can also review the general tips found at BBB.org/AvoidScams.
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.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.