Scammers Change Airline Customer Service Numbers on Google Search: Here's How to Book Safely
In the digital age, scammers are constantly finding new ways to exploit unsuspecting victims. A recent scam targeting frustrated and vulnerable airline passengers has come to light, exposing the deceptive tactics employed by these fraudsters. One passenger, Shmuli Evers took to Twitter to share his experience and raise awareness about the issue.
Twitter user exposes the potential scam
Shmuli Evers became the center of attention on Twitter when he shared his encounter with scammers. It all started when Evers' Delta Air Lines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) was abruptly canceled, per Simple Flying. Faced with a long line at the customer service desk, Evers decided to contact Delta Air Lines via phone. Like most people, he turned to Google and searched for Delta Air Lines to find the customer service number. He dialed the number that appeared on Google Maps, a seemingly legitimate +1-888 number. However, the call abruptly dropped and to his surprise, he immediately received a call back. This time, the number displayed was a +33 number, indicating it was from France and the caller ID showed DTI Publishing.
The person on the other end of the call who had an Indian accent appeared eager to assist Evers. He quickly accessed Evers' flight details using the confirmation number and name. The scammer proposed an alternative flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) later in the evening. However, things took a suspicious turn when the scammer texted Evers a screenshot of the flight details and asked him to confirm the new booking via SMS. To make matters worse, the scammer requested payment over the phone, urging Evers to call him to process the transaction.
He then asked me to call him, he said he has to cancel my original reservation, and I have to pay for the new one... this is when I asked him, where he was located, he said Rochester NY, when asking him where that is located, he said 2 hours South of NYC...— Shmuli Evers (@Shmuli) July 16, 2023
Growing suspicious and taking action
Evers grew increasingly skeptical of the situation and questioned the scammer's location. The man claimed to be in Rochester, New York but Evers noticed the geographical discrepancy as Rochester is actually two hours south of New York City. Sensing something was amiss, Evers decided against providing his payment information over the phone and abruptly ended the call. It was then that Evers realized the phone number he had called did not match the one listed on Delta Air Lines' official website for JFK Airport. He took to Twitter, stating, "Looks like the scammers changed the @delta number in JFK. I suggested an edit to @googlemaps to the real Delta number."
Airlines worldwide affected by the scam
Evers' discovery prompted him to investigate other airlines at JFK Airport and he found that several of the numbers listed on Google Maps did not correspond to the customer service numbers on the airlines' official websites. Among the airlines affected were American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Air France, Qantas, ITA Airways, and Turkish Airlines.
Response from Delta Air Lines
When contacted for comment, a spokesperson from Delta Air Lines emphasized their commitment to protecting customers from scams. They stated, "Whenever we become aware of an alleged scam targeting our customers, including in this situation, we immediately conduct an investigation. Using the facts gained from an investigation, when able, we can then address each unique situation as appropriate with the necessary legal means at our disposal."
Protecting yourself from phone scams
Verify the customer service number: Rather than relying solely on search engine results, visit the official website of the airline to find the correct customer service number. Be cautious of numbers displayed on search engine listings or third-party websites.
Use official contact channels: If you need to contact an airline, use the contact information provided on their official website or app. This reduces the risk of falling victim to scammers who manipulate search results.
Beware of suspicious requests: Scammers often request payment or personal information over the phone. Airlines typically have secure payment gateways on their websites, and they would not ask for sensitive information over the phone unless it's through their verified customer service line.
Report suspicious activity: If you come across any suspicious activity or suspect a scam, report it to the airline and the relevant authorities. By doing so, you can help protect others from falling victim to similar fraudulent schemes.
Remaining vigilant and aware of potential scams is crucial in today's digital landscape. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, we can safeguard ourselves and prevent scammers from exploiting unsuspecting individuals.
Remember, your safety and security should always be a top priority when dealing with any form of communication, especially when it comes to sensitive information and financial transactions.
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