Scammers taking advantage of Canadians excited to travel again

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Now that people are making travel plans and starting to book flights once again, some familiar scams are resurfacing. Con artists are using the lure of cheap fares to separate people from their money.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is already getting complaints about the scams, including fake booking sites and customer service numbers.

What often happens in these scams is is you book a great deal (either online or through a customer support number), get a confirmation, and then notice there is no actual ticket. In some cases, people are given travel itineraries and boarding passes but they are missing the usual links for travellers to check in, or change or cancel their flight.

And when you try to reach out to ask questions, there’s no answer from the fraudulent agents.

In other cases, people have been called back and told of sudden fees to finalize the booking or of price increases.

“This is something a legitimate company would never do,” the BBB said in a statement.

After the victims pay these extra charges, they find out there is no record of any of it when they eventually call a legitimate airline customer service agent.

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The BBB says it heard from one victim who searched online to try to add pets to a flight and called a phone number they found.

“They pretended to add our dog to cargo and cat to cabin, and stated they would charge us $925 for the dog and $425 for the cat. They asked for credit card number, name, phone number, and full address, and once they got this information, they hung up. We called back about 10 times, and various operators hung up on us,” they told the BBB.

“We then called United and there was no reservation for our pets. It appears they were using our United booking number and last name to find our itinerary and appear legit, because they knew all about our flight and the passengers flying.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the BBB says travel and vacation scams were the riskiest in Canada, with nearly two thirds of victims losing money, the median of which was $5,000.

The BBB says if you come across a company you haven’t dealt with before, do some research and try to find reviews before making any bookings. If possible, go directly to an airline or travel agency’s website for customer service numbers, and double check the URL before entering personal and payment information.

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