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From The Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia

How the Scam Works:

While doing an online search for cheap flights you come across a website with 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, however, red flags start to appear.

In the most common version of the scam you pay with your credit card like normal. 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 wouldn’t do.

What makes the scam so convincing? Once you pay you receive a confirmation code that can be verified with the airline. However, after a day or two, your reservation will be cancelled and the company that charged you will disappear. 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 Travel Scams:

  • 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 have to 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. 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.

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