Steer clear of airline scammers when booking your next flight

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:19 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Summer vacation plans are ramping up as more COVID-19 vaccines roll out. That’s great news for those booking getaways and scammers as well.

The Better Business Bureau is getting reports of con artists making fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers. They’re warning you that when you are buying airfare, be careful and double-check the URL or phone number before providing your credit card information.

When you’re doing an online search for cheap flights, you may come across what looks like a great deal with a major airline. You book the flight through the website or by calling a customer support number and get a confirmation message.

But when you look more closely at the email, you notice that you never actually received your ticket. In another version of the scam, you book a flight on a travel website that offers deals on airfare. You pay with your credit card like normal, but after making the payment, you get a call from the company saying that there’s been a sudden price increase or an extra charge to finalize your booking. The BBB said a legitimate company would never do this.

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.

You can avoid travel scams by doing your research. If you come across a company you haven’t dealt with before, research it before making any purchases. Look here for reviews and feedback from previous customers.

Also, 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.

Be wary of third-party websites as 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 and no physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can be indications of a scammer’s handiwork, too.

Make online purchases with your credit card because fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed.

To learn more about planning a getaway during COVID-19, check out this tip from BBB.

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