Don’t let holiday travel scams take you for a ride

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With the holiday season in full swing, people are trying to make travel plans to get home for the holidays.

Many folks would like to save much money as possible when spending their hard earned cash, and scammers count on that to try TO steal your money using fake websites that look like the real thing.

“They typically create an impersonating website so they mirror the look and the feel of that legitimate brand,” says Akino Chikada who works for MarkMonitor, an online brand protection company which has produced a report on how consumers are lead astray by fake websites impersonating real businesses.

Lurking on the web among legitimate companies are scores of counterfeit websites that say they belong to a real airline, hotel chain, or retailer, when in fact they are scammers hiding behind a false front.

Chikada explains how the fraudsters try to trick you:

“They might send out an email campaign, they might use social media, they might go out and purchase some paid search advertisements that promote that illegitimate site and consumers directed to it.” she says.

Instead of trusting one of those electronic come-ons, Chikada says you need to put the URL of the airline, hotel or retailer you want to go to directly into your browser because on line scammers can be tricky.

“Sometimes they’ll purchase a look-alike URL, it might have a minor typo in it, and direct you there,” she says.

Scammers like to use super low on-line prices that are too good to be true. But, Chikada says, people are starting to become wary of that, so the bad guys are tweaking the scam.

“Now, counterfeiters and fraudsters tend to be more sophisticated. They might price a lot higher, making sites seem more authentic,” she says.

She says people tend to be less careful about checking URLs when they are on a mobile device.

To safeguard yourself, you need to double check before you click, so you won’t be left at the airport gate with a fake ticket or phony hotel reservations when you get ready to start your holiday trip.

If you discover you’ve been taken in by a counterfeit website, you can report it to the real merchant you were trying to connect with. Chikada says most businesses have a place on line to report fraud. You can also call the customer service number of the business to report a counterfeit website using their name.

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