Sunday, June 23, 2024

Passengers warned about costly holiday flights scam & every airline is affected

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BRIT holidaymakers are being warned to be on the lookout for scams that could see their personal data being stolen on social media.

A recent study from consumer watchdog Which? found that airline customers were being targeted by fake social media accounts on X (formerly Twitter).


Fake accounts are posing as UK airlines on X in a bid to harvest customer dataCredit: Getty

The consumer champion found bogus accounts for every major airline in the UK, including British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Tui, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air.

Fake accounts on X are often used to trick customers into giving away their personal data to a scammer posing as an airline (or other legitimate business).

The scammers will often prey on vulnerable and frustrated customers who’ve contacted an airline about a problem.

From flight delays and cancellations to lost baggage, the scammers will reply to the passenger’s complaint, hoping the customer won’t notice that the reply has come from a fake account.

Customers will then receive replies from the airline’s genuine account as well as the fake accounts.

According to the consumer champion, both accounts use “near-identical language” and will apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Although the fake airline accounts will often ask customers for personal information, such as a phone number and bank details.

While X permanently suspends any misleading or deceptive accounts, Which? found several fake accounts that were active at the time of writing, with one of their researchers even receiving replies from a bogus account.

In its report, Which? urged holidaymakers to be on the lookout for any scam tactics, including asking for sensitive information like a booking reference, flight number, phone number and bank account details.

Fake accounts might also ask holidaymakers to click on an unsafe link or say you’re entitled to compensation and ask customers to download a “payment” app.

How to safeguard your holiday: A guide to ATOL protection and vetting travel companies

Instead of sharing sensitive data on X, passengers should only use the social media platform for minor queries.

Customers who do find themselves falling for a scammer should contact their bank immediately and report the scam to Action Fraud.

A spokesperson for X told the BBC: “On X, you may not misappropriate the identity of individuals, groups, or organisations or use a fake identity to deceive others.

“Accounts that pose as another person, group, or organisation in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under X’s misleading and deceptive identities policy.”


It’s always best to be wary about which companies you’re booking with and where you found any deals on the internet.

From 2021/22 there alone there were more than 4,244 reports of travel related fraud in the UK with victims losing an average of £1,868.

Last year, experts at Proxyrack revealed how you can protect yourself when booking your next holiday.

They urged holidaymakers to do the following:

  • Thoroughly check the website’s URL
  • Avoid clicking on email links
  • Look out for social media advertisements scams
  • Don’t be rushed into booking.

How to protect yourself from scams

BY keeping these tips in mind, you can avoid getting caught up in a scam:

  • Firstly, remember that if something seems too good to be true, it normally is.
  • Look for grammatical and spelling errors; fraudsters are notoriously bad at writing proper English. If you receive a message from a “friend” informing you of a freebie, consider whether it’s written in your friend’s normal style.
  • If you’re invited to click on a URL, hover over the link to see the address it will take you to – does it look genuine?
  • To be on the really safe side, don’t click on unsolicited links in messages, even if they appear to come from a trusted contact.
  • Be careful when opening email attachments too. Fraudsters are increasingly attaching files, usually PDFs or spreadsheets, which contain dangerous malware.
  • If you receive a suspicious message then report it to the company, block the sender and delete it.
  • If you think you’ve fallen for a scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool.

Meanwhile, tourists in Rome have warned about a photo scam that they say cost them more than £400.

And this travel influencer revealed another scam involving art forcing tourists to part ways with their money.

The consumer watchdog Which? has warned holidaymakers to be on the lookout for fake accounts impersonating UK airlines on X


The consumer watchdog Which? has warned holidaymakers to be on the lookout for fake accounts impersonating UK airlines on XCredit: Getty

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