RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The growing number of flight cancellations during this travel season has created a golden opportunity for scammers, who are taking advantage of people’s frustrations.
They are engaging in impersonation, pretending to be an airline by using fake websites and other tricks. It can be really hard to tell the difference between a real website or a fake one if you aren’t paying attention.
What’s the way to spot those fake websites? It’s the URL or domain name. You can detect the fakes ones by inspecting them very closely.
“People will fall for it because it’s very, very confusing,” said Yoav Keren, the CEO of BrandShield.
Real airline websites have two things that can’t be faked.
The first is a lock icon in the address showing it’s a secure site. It also will have an “S” at the end of the HTTP URL, showing the website has a security certificate.
Airlines are under constant assault by these scammers, especially now that folks are frustrated by so many flight cancellations.
“We found several fraud networks of websites for different airlines that just impersonate them,” said Keren.
Once the scammers hook you with a fake site, they move in.
“They will try and take this to some direct communication, through Messenger, What’s App or maybe a phone and then take that information through to an interaction,” said Keren.
The Federal Trade Commission says as of July 31, consumers have lost more than $52 million to travel scams.
Keren said if your flight is cancelled, contact the airline.
“Don’t trust those websites,” he said. “Go to the airline directly and make sure the number you call is the right number.”
The way to do that is go to a search engine and type in the words like: “American Airlines phone number.”
The number that comes up will be legit.
Don’t just put in the name of the airline– make sure you also use the words “phone number” otherwise you risk being sent to a fake website.