The proliferation of scammers targeting consumers who are anxious to return to travel after the pandemic shutdown has caught the attention of a pair of U.S. Senators.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently warned that it was receiving “reports of con artists creating fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers” to scam consumers as travel demand returns post-COVID-19.
The BBB said that is receiving more and more reports of consumers seeing too-good-to-be-true deals online and booking through a sketchy third-party website.
Reports say that consumers are booking a ticket and receiving a confirmation message, but in their email, they are realizing that they are not actually receiving a ticket. And, upon further investigation with their airline, it turns out that there is no record of a booking.
And that’s not the only scam that the BBB is seeing more of.
“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!” the BBB writes.
The BBB has put some tips on its website about how to avoid the scam, including doing research, double-checking the URL before putting in payment details, and being suspicious of websites.
However, scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated with their methods and an increasing abundance of travel sites online is making it difficult for consumers to differentiate between the ones that are legitimate and the ones that are scams.
That has pushed a pair of U.S. Senators—Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. and Steve Daines R-Mont.—to write the FTC’s acting chair to push the agency to make a plan on how to address the issue moving forward.
“Travel reservations made on fraudulent websites can be costly and stressful for travelers, and it is critical to ensure that Americans understand how to recognize travel scams and their recourse options should they fall victim to these scams,” the Senators wrote in a letter.
The Senators, like most of the industry, expect summer travel demand to be back strong, and that means more opportunities for scammers. While following the FTC’s advice is a good place to start, consumers can avoid possible issues by booking with a legitimate, verified travel advisor.
That, and their perseverance during 2020, is why Amadeus said travel agents would shape 2021 late last year.