Planning a trip? Before you purchase tickets to visit family, take a long-needed vacation, or any other adventure that requires booking tickets, you must be aware of potential risks so that you don't end up falling for a scam with no tickets and no trip.
Online traveling scams are a common phishing bait that everyone should watch for. Being aware of the risks could save your money and personal information from being leaked. Before you book your next flight, make sure you look out for these three common flight scams.
Free Airline Tickets
The free ticket scam is popular all over the web, but especially on Social Media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Scammers create profile pages using the name of known airlines and post fake contests that lure victims into clicking malicious links.
As much as we'd like for it to be real, free tickets rarely exist. If you came across a post on social media stating you could win free tickets, even if it's by a known airline, put your inspecting goggles on. Even if it looks like this post is from a known airline, it could be a cloned fake page. How can you tell a fake page from a real one? Go to the page itself and check if it has a blue checkmark next to the name. Only legitimate business and official pages get this mark.
Clicking on a link from a cloned page could lead you into a third-party phishing website unaffiliated with the airline, that will ask you to approve access to your profile or log in with your credentials, gaining access to yours and your contact list's information.
An airline running an actual contest will never ask you for access to your page or to re-sign into your account. If you see suspicious activity on your feed, stay away, and report it.
Flight Confirmation Emails
When you order flight tickets online, you expect to get a series of confirmation and reminder emails, and scammers can exploit this expectation. Titles on flight details and confirmation could be a scam, and you must be extra careful when opening these emails.
See below an email supposedly sent from Delta Airlines. At first glance, it looks like a legitimate email, but by looking closely you can spot it's fake from the sender URL (deltaa with 2 "a"s), plus the email contains no actual information about a flight.
Phishing emails disguised as confirmation emails will ask you to confirm your itinerary and passenger details or ask you to re-sign in with your account. This is incredibly dangerous as it could result in information leaks. Your full name and passport number, along with your address, are highly delicate pieces of information, and when put together, could result in identity theft and severe damage.
If you don't have a protection tool like Guardio installed that will alert you once you click on a malicious link, be extra careful and check the sender URL is the same as the official site. The best way to avoid it is by entering the URL by yourself without clicking.
Bait-and-Switch Airline Deals
While the free ticket scam is most popular on social media, the bait and switch work mostly by using search engine and pop up ads, these ads will claim you can save money on your flight tickets. Clicking on the ads will take you to a website showing lowe prices than known online travel agencies, but what they won't show in this price is the full range of fees they will impose on you. This results in a much higher cost than you would have typically paid and which you won't see until after you put in your payment details.
Another method of this scam is once you've given your payment details, a message will appear stating that the fare has been updated. Once you are so invested in the process, you are more likely to agree to this addition.
Now that you've educated yourself on flight scams be sure to take extra caution when planning your next trip. Clean your device from malware that could be waiting for the moment you enter delicate information and browse with safety. Have a safe journey, and send us a postcard!