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Don’t Lose Money to This Sneaky Airline Customer Support Scam

An upset woman at the airport sitting near a window next to her suitcase.

Image source: Getty Images

As scam techniques evolve, more people are falling victim. If you travel, it’s especially wise to be alert to the latest travel scams to protect your personal information and finances.

A sneaky airline customer support scam continues to impact flyers like you. As we head into the busy summer travel season, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re at risk for this scam. Here’s what you need to know about the scam so you can protect yourself.

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Beware of fake airline customer support numbers

What do most of us do when we need to find the answer to a question quickly? We perform a Google search. But make sure you’re clicking on legitimate website links when looking for information — especially if you’re in a hurry. Don’t assume the information you see after searching on Google is accurate, because it could lead to a scam.

A particular airline customer service scam is still impacting travelers. Travelers dealing with flight changes and delays are unknowingly contacting fake airline customer support lines.

After receiving email alerts about a flight delay, change, or cancellation, or finding out about last-minute changes at the airport, some flyers contact their airline’s customer service line in hopes of booking an alternate flight.

But instead of checking the phone number in their airline’s mobile app or on the airline’s website, they quickly search Google for the phone number.

Online scammers are sharing fake numbers online in hopes of tricking travelers into calling the wrong number. If you contact a fake customer service number like this, you may be tricked into providing payment information to book a new flight or make changes to your existing itinerary.

Unfortunately, if the scammer is successful, they’ll have access to your credit card information and can charge your card. Since you’re dealing with a scammer and not a legitimate airline employee, you’ll lose money without solving your flight issue.

Here’s how to stay safe when contacting airline support

It’s best to deal with official channels when seeking airline customer support. What’s the best way to do that? Here are some options:

  • Send a message within the airline app: If your airline offers message or chat support, you can get help by sending a message within the official airline mobile app. Doing this is a great way to get customer support while on the go.
  • Find an airline employee at the airport: If you need help while at the airport, go to the nearest gate for your airline to find an employee. They can help or direct you to someone who can help you with your flight change needs.
  • Verify the customer support number on the airline’s website or app: Before calling the airline’s customer service line, verify that the number you’ll be calling is accurate. You can find the right number on the airline’s website or mobile app.

Be on alert for travel scams

Sadly, travel scams are on the rise. It’s important to be alert, and if something feels off, trust your gut. If you’re asked to provide payment or other personal information when making a flight change after your flight has been canceled or changed, it’s likely a scam.

Most airlines will rebook your flight free of charge if they cancel it. If you’re on a call that feels suspicious, hang up immediately and find an alternate way to contact the airline for help. You don’t want to end up with a fraudulent charge on your travel credit card statement.

If you ever fall victim to a fraud like this, contact your credit card company as soon as possible to report the fraud. It will cancel your credit card and issue a new one, so your card number is no longer compromised.

It will also investigate, and if the charge is found to be fraudulent, it will issue a refund to your credit card account. Staying alert to travel scams like this can help you avoid added stress while traveling.

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Natasha Gabrielle has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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