Sam had been saving up for a long-awaited vacation. Once it came time to book his flight, Sam searched the web for the airline’s customer service number. He typed the number into his phone. When he called, an airline representative answered and helped Sam book his flight. All he had to do was give the representative some information about himself and his credit card details to book the flight.
A few days later, multiple unauthorized charges appeared on Sam’s credit card statement. Sam reported the incident to the credit card company and the authorities. After retracing his steps, Sam realized he had misdialed the toll-free number for the airline by one number. The number he had dialed belonged to a scammer who purposely bought phone numbers close to those of well-known organizations. The scammer preyed on people who dialed the wrong number by pretending to be from the airline the person was trying to call.
Did you spot the red flags?
- Instead of searching for a phone number online, Sam should have gone directly to the company’s website.
- Since Sam knew the airline he was trying to use, he could have clicked on the phone number in their app or on their official website to dial instead of typing it in.
- If unauthorized charges start appearing on statements, it is never a good sign. Sam took the correct steps by reporting these charges to the credit card company.
What you should know about this scam
Many websites and apps allow you to click a phone number to call it, instead of typing it in. After verifying you are on the official website or app, consider this method to avoid mistyping.
Verify phone numbers after you type them in. Proceed with caution if anything seems off. If an airline asks for a wire transfer or gift card, hang up.
Travel-related scams come in many different forms. Verify websites and phone numbers before booking any hotels or flights. Research the company before booking through a third party. Travel with as few devices as necessary and make sure auto-connect is disabled for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.