How to avoid fake airline "agents"

Scammers are posing as airline representatives
Posted at 9:49 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 12:34:21-04

WFTX — With so many people booking at a time when shortages of employees mean everything from canceled and delayed flights to long waits for airline reservations agents, scammers are doing their own impersonations to get your money.

We spoke Brian Oglesby with the Better Business Bureau of West Florida to find out more for you.

WFTX: What's the deal with these fake airline agents people are hearing from?

BRIAN OGLESBY/BBB OF WEST FLORIDA: So what BBB is seeing is consumers are searching online to book a flight or maybe even change their flight on the internet and they're looking for that customers service number. And unfortunately, they're clicking on the first link they find. And these fake websites are pretending to be the actual airlines. They create websites that look very similar to the airlines

The websites often offer phone numbers promising something most airlines can't delver these days - a chance to speak with a live person fast.

They know full well that travelers are often so anxious to get things settled, they can be talked into paying for something they shouldn't once they dial in.

BRIAN OGLESBY: And when they make the call, they believe they're speaking to the airline company. And so they are making a change to their flight and being charged additional fees they would normally not be charged if they spoke directly with the airline itself.

Oglesby says the key is to slow down and carefully look at what's coming up in your searches.

Many of these sites pay search engines to add fees to make them pop up high in your options.
Sometimes, the website of the actual airline you're looking for is not the first place you click into.

BRIAN OGLESBY/BBB OF WEST FLORIDA: Check that URL, check that website address. Know who it is on the website you're on. Know who're your calling. And make sure you scroll through the links to find who it is you're looking for when you're doing a search online.

Oglesby tells WFTX there is a good way to confirm suspicions about who you're talking to or the website you're on.

He says just do an internet search with key words and "BBB," "Better Business Bureau," and the word "scam."

Chances are, you'll see the BBB's own warnings about the situation you're in. Hang up, leave the website and remember to keep doing your homework every time you have doubt.