Wisconsin BBB: Beware of twist on third party airline ticket booking scam

Milwaukee, Wis. – Imagine the final arrangements for a trip are complete when an unexpected situation comes up. Or, you are at the airport getting ready to board the plane, and your flight is canceled or delayed. A quick search on the internet for the airline customer service locates a phone number, and you click to call.

The representative who answers claims to be with the affiliated airline and after explaining the change in travel plans, asks for personal and payment information. Once confirming the changes, an agreement of re-booking fees that are twice what the original airline ticket cost is sent over for signature. Still thinking you are dealing with the airline, the document is signed, the fee is paid, and the transaction goes through.

After hanging up you find another phone number that connects directly to the airline, so you call to verify your transaction. You discover they never received a call from you about changing or canceling a flight, and you have been scammed out of money and personal information.

When booking a trip, BBB recommends the following tips:

  • Verify the booking site: Before purchasing tickets, read all the fine print, cancellation polices, refund policies, and research the relationship the booking site has with the airlines. If you need to make a change, call the number where you purchased your original ticket, or go to the airline’s website and contact them directly.
  • Check the website security:Look for the https:// before entering any personal or financial information. Use a credit card to retain the ability to dispute and cancel the transaction.
  • Keep documentation: Save copies of confirmation messages, email communication, text messages, anything related to the transaction. Verify the customer service number provided in the communication.
  • Research the airline: See if they use third-party booking sites and compare flights and prices.
  • Check BBB: Research complaints, reviews, and ratings before booking. 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

For More 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 and online travel scams.

Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails

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.For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.