Travel nightmares continue as scammers go after frequent flier miles, hotel points

Diane Wilson Image
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Travel scams skyrocket as people look to get away
As summer travel continues to soar, scammers are finding a way to take advantage of those of you looking to get away.

As summer travel continues to soar, scammers are finding a way to take advantage of those of you looking to get away.

In addition to trying to steal your financial information, they're even trying to get hold of your hard-earned frequent flier miles and hotel points.

Jeff Sakasegawa at Sift, a fraud protection company, says his employees continue to see an uptick in travel scams.

"Year over year there's been about a 400% increase in fraud attempted within the travel industry, and to make it worse, the amount of fraud attempted is up about 754% year over year so more fraud (is) happening at larger dollar amounts," he said.

Since the pandemic, more than $90 million was reported by consumers to the Federal Trade Commission in vacation and travel fraud.

A few of the scams Sift found online include a fraudster offering American Airlines gift cards at 30% off. Another scam Sift detected was frequent flier miles and hotel points for sale and then used to book travel.

"It's usually done with stolen payment methods or hacked accounts truthfully," Sakasegawa said.

With so many options to book your next travel, who you use matters.

"Look out for authorized resellers or preferred partners of these businesses, sometimes I know these programs do exist, but oftentimes are just fake friends for fraudsters to lull you into a complacent state to work with them," Sakasegawa said.

An ABC11 viewer shared with us a scam she encountered the day before her flight on Alaska Airlines. She wanted to call and confirm everything was fine with her flights. She put Alaska Airlines in Google and clicked on what she thought was the airline's website, but instead taken to a copy-cat website.

When she called the number, they wanted her personal information and then told her the flight was canceled and she'd need to pay more to rebook. After too many red flags, she hung up and avoided losing money to the scam.

The Troubleshooter takeaways are to watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals. If using third-party travel sites, be very careful, don't communicate off its website, and make sure you look for the lock symbol in the URL meaning it's secure.

When it comes to finding travel deals on social media, always be leery as you never know who you're dealing with. For the best protection when it comes to paying for any travel use a credit card. You can always dispute the charge if something goes wrong. If you're asked to pay in crypto, gift cards, through a cash app, or wire money, all red flags.