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Safe travel starts with safe online booking.

For most of us, it’s been a while since we hopped on a plane and travelled somewhere with beautiful beaches, great food, or spectacular views. That means it’s also been a while since we got onto the internet and booked a plane ticket or vacation package. Though travel was halted in many places around the world during this COVID-19 pandemic, internet hackers and scammers haven’t taken any days off. With the recent uptick in travel interest as people get vaccinated around the globe, travel booking related scams have also increased in frequency. This article is a refresher on what to look for when booking a plane ticket or vacation online to avoid falling prey to a booking scam. 

How the scam works

Hackers execute travel scams by setting up seemingly legitimate booking sites around the internet that actually wire money to their personal bank accounts. These websites can look and feel real, making it difficult to determine that you’ve even been scammed. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are two telltale signs that you may have fallen prey to such website’s tricks:

  1. You book a ticket, and don’t receive a confirmation email or ticket shortly after you pay.

  2. You get a call or email shortly after submitting payment saying that the price of the ticket has suddenly increased, and that to hold on to your ticket, you must pay the difference between the new price and what you’ve already paid. 

Avoiding the scam

The BBB also has some tips for avoiding these types of scams, including:

  1. Doing your research. Before booking with a website, do some searching online to determine if the company is legitimate. If it is a scam there may also be information online from others who have been scammed. A google search can never hurt.

  2. Inspect the URL to ensure that it’s the correct URL for the airline or resort you’re supposed to be booking with. For example, a website may appear to be selling tickets for flights on United Airlines, but the URL is www.younitedairlines.com. Check the URL again before entering any personal or financial information. 

  3. Be wary of third party websites that don’t list an address or customer service contact options. 

  4. Make online purchases with a credit card. Credit card charges can usually be disputed more easily if it does turn out to be a scam. 

The easiest way to avoid a scam is to book through airlines and companies you are familiar with. You can also call the airline or company to make sure the website you’re on is the correct one.

We wish you safe booking and safe travels this summer!

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