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Risks of third-party flight bookings highlighted in recent B.C. scam incident

A couple fell into a deceptive situation, emphasizing the need for caution when booking flights
Recent incidents highlight the importance of vigilance when it comes to booking flight tickets. (rupixen/

Planning a trip can be an exciting experience, but the Better Business Bureau is highlighting the importance of vigilance when it comes to booking flight tickets.

In August 2022, a Burnaby man and his partner found they had fallen into a deceptive situation after mistakenly contacting a third-party travel agency instead of the official airline carrier. The couple was subjected to relentless pressure to pay high fees to modify their flights. Recognizing the suspicious nature of the situation, the man promptly ended the call, canceled his credit card and sought assistance from the correct airline carrier the next day.

Fortunately, they were able to re-book their flights without incurring any additional charges.

“In hindsight, this scam scenario may seem like an obvious one to avoid, but everything changes in the heat of the moment,” says Aaron Guillen, Better Business Bureau media and communications specialist.

According to the latest BBB Risk Report, travel and vacation scams rank ninth among the top 10 riskiest scams affecting Canadians.

READ MORE: ‘Stick and carrot’: New scams are using threats and kindness to get into Canadians’ wallets

BBB emphasized the need for caution, particularly when using third-party websites, as there are numerous potential sellers that could potentially steal personal information.

To prevent falling victim to such scams, BBB advises travelers to take certain precautions. It is recommended to contact the airline, hotel, or resort directly to verify reservations before the trip. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to use credit cards for transactions instead of wiring money or using debit cards. Banks can provide fraud protection, and timely reporting to the credit card company can potentially result in charges being cleared from the account.

BBB further suggests keeping all travel documentation up-to-date. Prior to booking a trip, travelers should make photocopies of itineraries and share a copy with a trusted family member or friend in case of emergencies. Valid passports and other necessary travel documents should be checked for expiration dates well in advance. The organization advises against waiting until the last minute to apply for travel documentation to avoid any disappointments.

Lastly, BBB warns against trusting third parties when it comes to passport-related matters. If a traveler hasn’t traveled abroad recently, they may need to apply for or renew their passport. The government’s official website should be consulted for instructions on the application or renewal process, and individuals should only provide personal information and pay fees at authorized Service Canada passport offices. Scammers claiming to expedite the process should be avoided.