Air travel is back and so are scammers

BBB Scam Alert: Booking a summer trip? Watch out for fake booking sites

Pensacola, Fla. (April 27, 2021) – With the COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, travel is coming back. That’s great news for summer vacation plans… and scammers. BBB Scam Tracker is receiving reports of con artists creating fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers. If you are buying airfare, use caution and double check the URL or phone number before providing your credit card information.

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—and receive a confirmation message. However, when you look more closely at the email, you notice that you never actually received your ticket.

In another version of this scam, you book a flight on a travel website offering deals on airfare. You pay with your credit card like normal. But shortly after making the payment, you receive a call from the company saying that there’s been a sudden price increase or an extra charge to finalize your booking. This is something a legitimate company would never do!

In either case, you call the airline to follow up about your flight. After talking to an agent, you find that they have no record of your booking. It turns out you accidentally purchased tickets through a scam website or a phony customer service number.

Tips To Avoid This Scam: 

  • 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 the URL before you enter personal and payment information. It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or imposter website without noticing. Before you enter 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.)
  • Before entering your credit card information, go directly to the major airline’s website and double check the flight dates and times to be sure the flights you wish are actual flights with that airline.
  • Make online purchases with your credit card. Fraudulent charges made 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.

Additional Information

To learn more about planning a getaway during COVID-19, check out this tip from BBB. For ways to protect yourself from travel scams, go to BBB.org/TravelScam. Read more about customer service number scams.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.