How To Avoid The Latest Air Travel Scams

By Gath Adams on 02/Jun/2014

Unfortunately, scammers are getting smarter.

Criminals know that their old tricks and schemes won’t fool people anymore, so they’re upping their game with more creative and technical scams. And air travel is a big target for these fraudsters.

But by educating yourself about the most common travel schemes, you’ll be better able to identify a scam when you see one.

So make sure you’re aware of these 4 air travel scams – it could save you a lot of money and hassle.

E-mail ticketing schemes

Crooks are always coming up with new ways to use e-mail to scam travellers.

Last year, Qantas warned its customers to be aware of fake e-ticket itineraries that contained viruses in the form of .zip files. The airline actually only sends documents relating to the booking as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file that can be downloaded directly.

Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia reported similar schemes in 2012.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also warned travellers about a variation of this scam that involves people getting e-mails that say you were charged for an airline ticket. The e-mail includes an attachment that appears to be the receipt, but it actually holds malicious software instead.

E-mails scams were so prolific last year that it made Computer World’s list of the top 3 Australia financial scams of 2013.

Flights with stolen credit cards

Scammers know that travellers are always hunting for great deals, so they use stolen credit cards to purchase tickets online and then sell those tickets on websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, Oodle or Gumtree.

The crooks state in the postings that they’re suddenly not able to make the flight so they’re offering the ticket at a rock-bottom price. But in order to get the cheap fare, you must put the payment into an untraceable account (normally by wire transfer).

And when the victims try to use the tickets, they’re told by the airline that the fares have been purchased with a stolen credit card. And that means the ticket is useless.

So to avoid getting scammed, always purchase your tickets from reputable sources – and avoid deals that look fishy.

Fake calls about travel deals

This scam has been victimizing travellers in New Zealand lately – a fraudster calls you at home pretending to be from a major airline and promising huge discounts on overseas travel.

The crooks usually say that you’ve won massive savings on your next flight, but must provide your credit card information in order to claim the bonus. Big red flag right there that whatever information you give them will be used for fraud.

In the recent New Zealand case, the thieves were using automated calling systems that pretended to be from Air New Zealand. In fact, a company spokesperson said the airline does not use automatic calling at all.

Trick airport WiFi

What traveller doesn’t want free WiFi? And when you’re desperate to check your e-mail or fire off a message on Twitter, you’re less likely to pay attention to the type of WiFi connection you’re tapping into at the airport.

And that’s when they get you. Although your laptop or tablet will sniff out legitimate connections, you could accidently log onto a fake WiFi source that will allow hackers to creep into your device.

So ensure you don’t put your information at risk by finding out the name of the airport’s public Internet link service. That way you'll recognize the legit WiFi source when your laptop finds it. And even then, you should still be careful about what type of information you enter when online.

Do you know of an airline travel scam that people should be aware of? Tell us about it in the comments below.

By Gath Adams on 02/Jun/2014
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Tagged as: travel scams, scams, fraud

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