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Know how to spot an airfare scam before you book your next flight

Use a credit card when purchasing anything online

Scammers looking to take advantage as air travel ramps up
Scammers looking to take advantage as air travel ramps up

DETROIT – With COVID vaccines available, more people are looking to get back into traveling and scammers are aware.

The Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker is receiving reports of con artists creating fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers.

Make sure you double-check the website’s URL and phone number before you provide your credit card information.

How does the scam work?

The fake websites or phone numbers appear when people search online for flights.

In one scenario, you book the flight through the website or by calling the fraudulent number but when you receive the confirmation email it’s clear that you didn’t get a ticket.

In another scenario, you book a flight on a travel website offering deals and pay with your credit card. After paying, you get a call from the company saying that there’s been a sudden price increase and you need to pay an extra fee to finalize your booking. This is a scam, a legitimate company wouldn’t do that.

One victim told the BBB, “I received a phone call right after [I booked the flight] stating that they wanted $100 per passenger to finalize my flight.” The victim called the airline to complain and found out that “the flight wasn’t available to begin with. The flight was never booked ... This company just charged my card.”

READ: More Help Me Hank coverage

How to avoid travel scams

If you come across a company that you’re not familiar with you should research it before making any purchases.

You should double-check the URL before you enter personal or payment information. Secure links start with “https:/” and include a lock icon on the purchase page.

Be wary of third-party websites. You should be suspicious of websites that don’t have a working customer service number and no physical address.

When you are making an online purchase you should use a credit card instead of a debit card or your bank account. Fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed.

READ: More scam coverage


About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.