BBB warns air travelers to use caution when booking flights

Double-check websites and phone numbers to ensure they are legitimate
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 3:48 PM EDT
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InvestigateTV - Sandy Smith was looking to visit her brother in Oklahoma in the spring of 2022. She said her plan was to use a Southwest Airlines credit to pay for the trip.

However, Smith said instead of dialing a 1-800 number for Southwest, she misdialed and ended up with another travel booking hotline.

”They posed as a Southwest Airline, and it wasn’t,” Smith said.

According to Smith, the representative she spoke with said she needed to pay $188 in fees for her flight and was told she would receive a confirmation number in her Southwest account in 48 hours.

Two days later, with the confirmation number still not there, Smith called back but this time using the correct number for Southwest Airlines.

The real Southwest agent told her there was no record of the new flight. Once she realized she had misdialed on her first call, Smith said she called back and demanded a refund.

“When I started pressing him on if he was Southwest Airlines, he hung up on me!!” Smith exclaimed.

Josh Planos with the BBB says it’s critical to double-check websites and phone numbers when booking a flight. Going to a website directly gives you the ability to see that the url is correct before proceeding.

Planos also warned of scams where fraudsters send out fake cancellation emails and texts to dupe consumers into clicking on phishing links.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, This year Better Business Bureau has recorded a 187% increase in the amount of money lost to travel scams in 2021.

InvestigateTV reached out to Southwest and Capital One - Smith’s bank - after she told us she ran into trouble disputing the charges.

Less than a week later, Smith received letters from both companies and a credit to her account for the missing 188 dollars…

In a statement, Southwest also told us they’re providing Smith with a voucher for future travel.

Capital One replied with the following statement:

Discovering that you’ve been a victim of fraud can be alarming and frustrating. We urge our customers to be careful about offers that appear to be too good to be true, and to research the company offering the suspicious promotion to see what other customers have to say. In cases where a customer feels they have been defrauded by a merchant or that the goods they received were not as promised, we always encourage customers to reach out to us directly so we can initiate a dispute on their behalf.

You can report fraud or suspicious activity directly to the BBB. You can also use their scam tracker to see common frauds in your area.