It seems that scammers can find any opportunity to take advantage of consumers, they do. The latest scam is taking advantage of the thousands of flights being delayed or canceled as travelers try to reschedule their flights or find deals for their next trip. more than 59 million Americans reported losing money as a result of phone scams according to caller ID and spam-blocking app Truecaller’s 2021 Spam and Scam Report. Spam calls reach 1.4 billion per month.
Here’s some advice from Clayton LiaBraaten, Truecaller’s senior strategic advisor, on how consumers can protect themselves from this new wave of scams.
As flight cancellations and delays continue, scammers are looking for their next victim. Given the massive cancellations caused by Omicron and increased testing requirements for international travel, criminals are capitalizing on the refurbishment, post-lockdown wanderlust, offering everything from cheap travel to circumventing policies.
One point to remember is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. After a flight cancellation, scammers can target vulnerable travelers with a better ‘deal’ for their rescheduled flight, often posing as the airline or a travel agent.
Always make sure to confirm a phone number before disclosing any personal information. If you don’t pick up, remember that if the call is legitimate they will leave a message. More importantly, don’t click on embedded links. Links from scammers can easily compromise your personal information, leading to potential fraud.
Please make sure the phone number is correct before responding. You can do this by going directly to the airline’s website. The airline’s website should also be able to tell you the status of your flight, and will help reduce potential fraud by scheduling a new flight over the phone. Be sure to keep a copy of your texts and call logs for reporting purposes and forward the message to 7726 (SPAM) who will report the message to your carrier. You must then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you believe you have been scammed, please contact your state’s Consumer Protection Agency first.
The FCC created STIR/SHAKEN, a framework of protocols and procedures designed to combat robocallers and scams, which all providers should have implemented by 2021. Check your carrier’s website or contact them directly to learn more about their plans to reduce phone scams. Consider downloading third-party caller ID apps for backup. For your mobile devices: download a free caller ID and spam blocker app. Branded Caller ID helps reduce scams and allows you to receive calls from legitimate travel companies and book travel without the stress of potential fraud. You can check when to pick up the phone and when to shut out the scammers. Sign up for the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list and report unwanted calls here.
Keep in mind that these scammers are good at what they do. Very well. I got a call from scammers and the caller ID is actually a form of my bank’s name. Emails and texts look official. Taking the time to protect yourself can save you hours of headaches repairing 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 tips for saving money 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.