(WTNH) – Scam alert! The Better Business Bureau is warning travelers about schemes trying to take advantage of people attempting to book a trip, as well as those who have their flights set.
With a turbulent summer travel season in gear, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a warning about scams disguised as deep discounts or fake cancellation notifications on flights.
“Scammers always do their best work when people want something really bad, and they don’t want to pay too much for it,” said Jim Temmer from the BBB.
Carolyn is a teacher who went online to search for cheaper airfare. When several sites popped up, she said she clicked on one that seemed to have a flight that was exactly what she needed.
“I booked it. A little while later I got a phone call, saying this flight has been canceled,” she noted.
In light of this, the provider offered up an alternative. But when Carolyn talked to the representative, she said there were immediate red flags. She grew suspicious and asked for a refund, but never received one.
“They also tacked on a $200 fee for themselves that I did not know about,” Carolyn said.
And while Carolyn was able to get some of her money back by calling her credit card company, the BBB told ABC News they’ve received 73 reports of this scam. About 40% of these reports have happened since the middle of June, officials said.
Experts said thieves are using two major strategies. In some cases, like Carolyn’s, scammers are setting up bogus but convincing websites that lure you in with the promise of a good deal only. Then, shortly after you book it you get a text or email saying your flight has been changed, canceled, or the fare has gone up.
This is when they ask for your credit card to rebook.
“They’re trying to get more money out. Unfortunately, you just bought that from a scam website or scam service agency and there is no flight, there is no ticket,” said Temmer. “And unfortunately, they took not only your payment, but they have your information.”
And beware of scammers who are trying to take advantage of real flights.
“They’ll send you a notice saying your flight was canceled and to contact them, and you contact them. And again, there’s going to be a charge for something like a booking charge, [and] they’ll get you on another flight for a cancellation charge. So you go through all that. And then what happened was the original flight was never canceled,” added Temmer.