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Watch out for fake airline reservation scam

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Travelers know that exasperating flight changes and arrival/departure delays are a common part of flying, and that’s why the following phishing scam is so treacherous.

Scammers are using the names of major airlines such as United and Southwest, on fake email messages that alert people to a flight change, ask them to download a recent ticket purchase or take a survey about a recent flight, according to the Better Business Bureau.

The bogus emails use the company logo and have “a professional design and well-written copy,” the BBB says.

Some of the messages include convincing details, such as: “If you are experiencing difficulty viewing this message, click here.”

Such email links or attachments contain malware that allows access to your computer and any of the personal information you have stored there.

Scammers also are creating fake websites that look like an airline’s reservation center.

” If your flight is cancelled and you are standing in an airport frantically searching on your phone, you can easily be fooled by these scam sites,” the BBB says.

Better to talk to an agent at the airport or check your ticket for the airline’s real contact information.

Reminders about how to avoid phishing scams, courtesy of the BBB:

• Don’t click on links or open attachments that come from unexpected emails.

• “Don’t take unsolicited emails at face value.” Crooks send mass emails searching for victims, so if the email doesn’t mention you by name or include any personal information, be wary.

• You can check the veracity of emails by hovering your mouse over a link.

• Go to the source rather than relying on contact information in an unsolicited email. For example, use customer service information provided when you make a particular purchase rather than doing a broad search online.

Benefits criminals at it again

Despite repeated warnings, people are still falling for the fraudster who calls and claims to be from the Social Security Administration. Or the IRS. Or Medicare.

These calls seems to be ubiquitous. In fact, government imposter scams have been the No. 1 reported type of fraud since 2014. The most common one is the Social Security fraud, with total losses so far this year amounting to $14.7 million. An example among the many variations is the caller who claims your Social Security number has been linked to some sort of criminal activity, and you must provide information or money to protect yourself.

Others: your account has been cancelled or the agency wants to increase your benefit payments but needs a detail like your Social Security number or your date of birth. And so on.

A few reminders: government agencies do not call people to issue threats or promises of money. Don’t trust your caller ID (the number that shows up can be a spoof) and never pay a requested amount with a gift card or wire transfer.

To save yourself time and headaches, just hang up if you get a call purporting to be from the Social Security Administration. If you do want to check with the agency, call at the (legitimate) main number: 1-800-772-1213.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

 

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