A network of scammers is using Expedia Group’s name to steal thousands of dollars from consumers.Con-artists are posing as Expedia impostors.
This is a recent scam that consumers have reported from 17 different states and Canada, and together, lost nearly $10,000.
Summertime remains the most popular time of year to travel and most consumers know Expedia’s brand, said business administration manager Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said.
“They are BBB accredited business, A+ rated out of Washington, but scammers are using that opportunity to impostor them and stealing consumers money and their personal information.”
The scam begins when consumers search online, then call customer service numbers claiming to be Expedia.
Customers ask the representative to confirm or change existing reservations they’ve made through the Expedia travel site.
In reality, they’re talking with an Expedia impostor and it all spirals from there.
“When you call for a refund or change of plans, they’re asking you to go get gift cards and on those gift cards, they’re going to load your refund back to you, when in reality, they’re just stealing money from you, and in some instances, your personal information,” added Babin.
The imposters say their refund site isn’t working properly and the customer needs to purchase gift cards in order to receive a refund or change bookings.
Babin explained, “Scammers are using gift cards typically because there’s less protection associated with gift cards and the money that’s on those gift cards once it leaves it’s very hard to get that money back.”
The Better Business Bureau and Expedia are working together with internet and phone companies in a effort to stop this from happening.
“They’re working to try to protect their brand and try to just inform their customers on how to contact them directly so that they don’t get involved with the scammers.” said Babin.
Expedia is taking steps to counteract these imposers, including working with popular search engines to reduce the occurrence of fake ads, making its customer service contact number more visible, and adding info about these scams to its customer service portal.
Here are tips to help you protect yourself from this scam:
- Most trustworthy companies will never demand a gift card as a form of payment and consumers should never have to pay to get money back.
- Using a search engine does not guarantee getting the correct number. Always go directly to a company’s website.
- Protect your personal information. Don’t give it away to someone you don’t know.
In a statement, Expedia Group said: “Our goal is always to ensure travelers have a seamless and trouble-free booking experience with us, and it’s incredibly unfortunate that scammers have disrupted our customer’s well-deserved vacations and travel plans.
Rest assured that we are also working hard to identify ways to prevent this from happening in the future.”
If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.