SHREVEPORT, La. - A network of scammers is using Expedia Group’s name to take consumers for thousands of dollars, according to the Better Business Bureau. Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest and Pacific has received several reports in just the past several days from consumers who’ve lost as much as $3,700.
Expedia is a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating. In a statement, the Bellevue, Washington-based company said, “We are happy to team up with the BBB to educate people about this scam and share tips on how they can protect themselves.”
The scam begins after consumers have booked travel through the online travel company Expedia. Consumers later looking to change or confirm their bookings, contact customer service numbers they have found by searching online, the numbers purporting to be with Expedia. But instead of reaching legitimate Expedia representatives, they are calling phone numbers set up by impostors. The impostors say their refund site isn’t working properly and the consumer needs to purchase gift cards in order to receive a refund or change bookings.
Consumers reporting this scam hail from 17 different states and Canada, and, together, report losing nearly $10,000. One woman told BBB that the scammer kept telling her to, “purchase (additional) gift cards saying that he had to merge the cards together,” but not to worry as she, “was going to be well reimbursed.” Several customers say the fake customer service rep stayed with them on their cell phones while they purchased the gift cards.
That’s what happened when BBBNW+P contacted one of the phony numbers and listened as the impostor tried to convince us we needed to buy gift cards, giving us a convoluted explanation of how we would get a refund. Even after we hung up with the scammers, they called us back to see if we were purchasing gift cards!
Expedia Group’s statement continues, “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 customers’ 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.”
Expedia Group is taking steps to counteract these impostors, 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.
BBB Serving Northeast & Central LA and the Ark-La-Tex offers the following tips for consumers to protect themselves:
- 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 business’ own website to find contact information. Large companies often have a ‘Contact Us’ button or a help hotline number directly on their webpage.
- Protect personal information. Be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi and never use it for online banking or entering personal or financial information.