Getting back into the travel habit? Jumping on a plane soon? Experienced a bit of a luggage disaster and looking for help on social media? Watch out, because a lack of prior research could prove very costly.
Word has spread of a bogus Twitter account pretending to be a customer support channel of British Airways. Now suspended, the fraud operation seems to have taken a fair bit of cash before being shut down.
Lose your luggage, find a fraud
People posting about missing luggage on Twitter quickly found their replies filling up with offers to help from a non-verified account purporting to be British Airways. The account asked for phone numbers and likely pushed for additional contact via Twitter’s private message system.
Unfortunately, these offers of help quickly turned sour. The scam account requested various forms of payment to help recover the missing luggage. Although the fakers have been suspended, a lot of replies sent their way still exist. Looking through, we can see at least one individual who was initially told that her luggage was “lost in Dallas”. To move things along, a request for payment was made using the payment system Wise.
Though initially a small amount overall, the scammers quickly ramped things up. It’s not long before the victim complained that they were being asked for even more money. Eventually, they claim to have lost out on no less than a thousand US dollars. Of course, they still don’t have any idea where their luggage has ended up. Taking these amounts from people who are overseas, with no belongings, and a now potentially cleaned out bank account is quite the vicious approach.
Avoiding the luggage assistance fakers
Here are some things you should do, and be aware of, when in transit.
- Airlines are not going to ask for additional fees or payment to help you look for your bags.
- Be wary of non-verified accounts replying to you. Is it asking for additional personal details? Phone numbers? Payment? Why?
- Go directly to the source. Use official websites, verified support channels, phone numbers listed on those official websites. You can pretend to be anyone you like on social media, and this is a ripe field for potentially costly scams.
- If you’re still not sure of the authenticity of an account you’re dealing with, go to the airport help desk. If you’ve realised your bags are missing, you’re almost certainly still in the terminal. Make full use of their availability and ensure everything and everyone you’re interacting with is the real deal.
As people slowly start to get back into the swing of travel, it’s inevitable that fraudsters will do as much as they can to rip those travellers off in any way they can. Customer support is great, but it pays to be mindful when ringing the help alarm. You never quite know who’s going to show up in response.