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How to Protect Yourself From Travel Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of travelers when flights are delayed or canceled. Here's what to watch for, and how to report scams.

It seems like any opportunity scammers can find to take advantage of consumers, they do. The latest scam capitalizes on the thousands of flights being delayed or canceled as travelers try to reschedule their flights or try to find deals for their next trip. more than 59 million Americans reported having lost money as a result of phone scams according to caller ID and spam blocking app Truecaller’s 2021 Spam and Scam Report. Spam calls are reaching 1.4 billion a month.

Here’s some advice from Clayton LiaBraaten, Truecaller's senior strategic adviser, on how consumers can protect themselves from this new surge of scams.

As flight cancellations and delays continue, scammers are on the lookout for their next victim. Given the mass cancellations due to Omicron and increased testing requirements for international travel, criminals are playing to pent-up, post-lockdown wanderlust and offering everything from cheap travel to circumventing policy.

One point to remember is that if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. After a flight cancellation, scammers might target vulnerable travelers with a better ‘deal’ for their rescheduled flight, often posing as the airline or a travel agency.

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Always make sure to confirm a phone number before divulging any personal information. If you don’t pick up, remember, if the call is legitimate they’ll leave a message. More important, don’t click on embedded links. Links from scammers can easily compromise your personal information, leading to potential fraud.

Confirm that the phone number is correct before responding. You can do so by going directly to the airline’s website. The airline’s website should be able to tell you the status of your flight as well, and will help to mitigate potential fraud through rescheduling over the phone. Make sure to keep a copy of your texts and call logs for reporting purposes and forward the message to 7726 (SPAM) which reports the message to your carrier. You should then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you feel you have been defrauded, start by contacting your state’s Consumer Protection Office.

The FCC created STIR/SHAKEN, a framework of protocols and procedures intended to combat robocallers and scams, which all carriers should have implemented by 2021. Check your provider’s website or contact them directly to learn more about their plans to mitigate phone scams. Consider downloading third party caller ID apps for backup. For your mobile devices – download a free caller ID and spam blocking app. Branded Caller ID will help mitigate scams and allow you to receive calls from legitimate travel businesses, and book travel without the stress of potential fraud. You’ll be able to monitor when to pick up the phone and when to block out the scammers. Sign up for the FTC’s ‘Do Not Call’ list and report unwanted calls here.

Keep in mind these scammers are good at what they do. Really good. I have received calls from scammers and the caller ID actually has a form of my banks name. Emails and texts look official. Taking the time to protect yourself can save you hours of headaches trying to rectify the damage a scammer can cause.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is the author of “The Joy of $aving: Money Lessons I Learned From My Italian-American Father & 20 Years as a Consumer Reporter.” Jeanette is a regular contributor to TheStreet. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday, and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to “The Today Show” and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her money saving tips and ways to give back on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: The Joy of $aving Community. Find links to her social media and her book at JeanettePavini.com.