SCAM ALERT: Flight cancellation surge leads to new con

FILE(Live 5)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 1:01 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The surge in flight cancellations has scammers hoping to catch one on your dime with a new con.

With airline travel back in full swing following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Better Business Bureau says scammers are already taking advantage of the increase in flight cancellations with a new con.

BBB said its Scam Tracker has received various reports of scammers who have created fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers to charge travelers to reschedule fake flights.

The BBB warned residents that if buying airfare online, they should use caution and double-check the URL or phone number before any credit card information is provided.

While a traveler performs an online search for cheap flights, the BBB said they will come across what seems like a great deal with a major airline and book that flight through either a website or a call to a customer support number. However, after making the payment another call will come that says there has been a sudden price increase or an extra charge to finalize this booking.

The BBB noted that this is a move a legitimate company would never make. It turns out that the traveler has accidentally purchased tickets through a scam website or phony customer service number. It said the price increase is a way to get more money out of the victim.

In another similar con, the BBB indicated the original flight may have been real, however, a cancellation notice was faked. It said the traveler gets an email or text that claims the upcoming flight has been canceled and they would need to rebook.

When calling the number provided for this scam, the BBB said the “airline” will offer to book a new ticket for a fee. However, if a follow-up with a real airline support employee is made, the traveler would discover nothing was wrong with the original flight. It said the message was a scam and credit card details have just been given to a con artist.

“I thought that I bought airline tickets with United Airlines through a company that sells at discounted prices. They called me shortly after I bought my tickets and said that the flight had been canceled. They wanted permission to put me on another flight with Southwest and said it would be $80 extra,” one victim told the Scam Tracker. “It turned out that United Airlines never canceled a flight. I tried to call this company and leave a message, and I tried to email them to no avail. It turns out that the airlines were unaware of this ticket purchase.”

The Bureau gave the following tips to avoid travel scams:

  • Research - If residents come across a company they have not dealt with before, they should research it before making any purchases. provides reviews and feedback from previous customers.
  • Double check flight details before support is called - The scammed emails and texts may look like the real deal, so residents should confirm the information in the message - like flight and reservation numbers - is correct before customer support is called.
  • Confirm the URL before entering personal and payment information - It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or impostor website without notice. Before any sensitive information is entered, residents should double-check they are on the right website and that the link is secure - secure links start with HTTPS// and include a lock icon on the purchase page.
  • Be wary of third-party websites - Some websites appear to offer a legitimate service but are only means for a scam. Residents should be suspicious of websites with no working customer service number or physical address. Typos and grammatical errors could signal the handiwork of a scammer.
  • Make online purchases with a credit card - Fraudulent charges on a credit card can usually be disputed, however, other payment methods such as debit cards do not include this feature. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back personal information already shared.

For more information or more ways to protect yourself, click HERE.

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