Columns and Letters

Column: BBB scam alert: Airfare scams are cashing in on cancelled flights

August 3, 2022 

-by Bonnie MacIsaac
    Lots to keep up with lately. First off, I have to say it again, thanks to all the volunteers who have been working so hard to make all the events so enjoyable for all those who attend. Even a large, unplanned power outage on Saturday night couldn’t stop the festivities that were taking place across the county!


    I love seeing Inverness County so busy! Lots of people travelling – to and/or through our area. Many are home visiting, and taking in our local events. If you are deciding it’s time to take a trip, here is some timely information to be aware of.
    As we know, airline travel is back in full swing, but scammers are taking advantage of increased flight cancellations with a new con. BBB Scam Tracker has received multiple reports of scammers creating fake airline ticket booking sites or customer service numbers to charge travellers for rescheduling fake flights. If you are buying airfare, use caution and double-check the URL or phone number before providing your credit card information.
How the scam works
    While doing an online search for cheap flights, you come across what seems like a great deal with a major airline. You book the flight – either through the website or by calling a customer support number.
    But shortly after making the payment, you receive a call from the company saying there's been a sudden price increase or an extra charge to finalize your booking. This is something a legitimate company would never do! It turns out that you accidentally purchased tickets through a scam website or a phony customer service number. The price increase is a way to get more money out of you.
    In another similar con, your original flight was real, but the cancellation notice is fake. You get an email or text message claiming that your upcoming flight has been cancelled and you need to rebook. When you call the number provided, the “airline” offers to book you a new ticket – for a price. However, if you follow up with real airline support, you’ll discover that nothing was wrong with your original flight. The message was a scam, and you just gave your credit card details to a con artist.
    One victim told BBB Scam Tracker: “I thought that I bought airline tickets with United Airlines through a company that sells at discounted prices. They called me shortly after I bought my tickets and said that the flight had been cancelled. They wanted permission to put me on another flight with Southwest and said it would be 80 dollars extra…It turned out that United Airlines never cancelled a flight. I tried to call this company and leave a message, and I tried to email them to no avail. It turns out that the airlines were unaware of this ticket purchase.”
How to avoid travel scams
– Do your research. If you come across a company you haven’t dealt with before, research it before making any purchases. Look on BBB.org for reviews and feedback from previous customers.
– Double check flight details before calling support. Scammers are blasting out fake airline cancellation emails and text messages that can easily be mistaken for the real deal. Confirm the information in the message – such as the flight and reservation numbers – is correct before calling customer support.
– Confirm the URL before you enter personal and payment information. It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or impostor website without noticing. Before entering any sensitive information, double-check that you are on the right website and that the link is secure. (Secure links start with “HTTPS//” and include a lock icon on the purchase page. Learn more at BBB.org/BBBSecure.)
– Be wary of third-party websites. Some websites appear to offer a legitimate service but are only fronts for a scam. Be suspicious of websites with no working customer service number or physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can be indications of a scammer’s handiwork.
– Make online purchases with your credit card. Fraudulent charges on a credit card can usually be disputed, whereas that might not be the case with other payment methods. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back the personal information you may have shared.
    Thanks to the BBB for these excellent tips! The has helped consumers and businesses make smarter decisions. For more consumer tips: Log onto: https://www.bbb.org/atlantic-provinces. You can also report any scams you come across with the BBB Scam Tracker: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us.
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    If you are planning on taking a vacation this summer, even just a trip to the cottage or campground, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has some timely reminders for Canadians to help protect our homes and cars while we are away.
IBC's top 10 tips for preparing your home and car for vacation:
1. Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to check on your home every few days. Have someone collect your mail and/or newspapers, park a car in your driveway and check your home for any damage. Make sure they know how to reach you.
2. Make your home look lived in. Noticeable differences from your home's usual appearance can hint that you are away. Consider using timers that turn lights on and off automatically, and leave curtains and blinds as normal (removing valuables from sight).
3. Disconnect electronics. Unplug TV sets, stereos, computers, and other electronic devices, or plug them into a surge protector.
4. Inspect your home before you leave. Put away bicycles and gardening equipment, and lock your shed. It's also helpful to keep trees and shrubs trimmed so your house is in plain view. Update your home inventory and take photos or videos of its contents.
5. Double check that all doors and windows in your home are locked.
6. If you have a security system, set it before you go.
7. If possible, load luggage into your car in your garage.
8. Close car windows, lock the doors and keep keys in a safe spot. Don't leave car keys visible in your house. Instead, keep the keys with you. Remove valuables from your car.
9. Keep your car registration and proof of insurance with you. Thieves may try to falsify information if they find your registration and proof of insurance.
10. Don't announce your vacation plans in casual conversations or emails, or on social media sites. Social media can reach further than you expect. Don't alert potential thieves to your absence. Only post travel pictures when you return.
    Data that I found from Aviva Canada clearly shows that residential burglary claims increase dramatically over the summer months. Compared to February – which has the lowest frequency of burglaries – July, August, and September show an increase of 24 per cent, 36 per cent, and 18 per cent respectively.
Here are a couple of other interesting facts:
– Friday is a favourite for thieves. Aviva insurance claims data also indicates that break-ins are more common at the start of the weekend, with Friday showing the greatest incidence at 25 per cent higher than Sunday, the day with the lowest incidence of break-ins. Thursday also shows a high rate of break-in frequency at 19 per cent higher than Sunday.
– Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia trend higher than rest of Canada. Based on Aviva Canada data, Quebec homeowners have the highest frequency of break-ins at almost two times that of the national average. At just over one third of the national average, the Atlantic Provinces have the lowest frequency of burglary claims.
    If you return home to find you've been the victim of a burglary, contact your insurance broker as soon as possible after alerting the authorities.
    Thanks to the folks at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Aviva Insurance for this valuable information.
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Heading out on a road trip? It is estimated that about 20 per cent of fatal collisions involve driver fatigue, calculated by eliminating other possible causes such as alcohol impairment, speeding, unsafe passing, etc. (CCMTA, 2010)
Some of the warning signs of tiredness are:
– blinking or yawning frequently;
– closing eyes for a moment or going out of focus;
– having wandering or disconnected thoughts;
– realizing that you have unintentionally slowed down;
– braking too late;
– not being able to remember driving the last few kilometers;
– drifting over the centre line onto the other side of the road.
    Everyone is subject to their body’s circadian rhythms such that they are less alert during certain times of the day, usually 2:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Therefore, taking breaks from driving during these times could lower the risk of fatigue related collisions considerably.
    To manage fatigue, drivers can consider doing the following:
– sleep well prior to long road trips;
– share the driving with other passengers;
– take regular rest stops every couple of hours and do some exercise;
– eat light meals or fruit throughout the journey and drink water;
– if one feels tired during the trip, a nap of 20 to 40 minutes is an effective way of reducing sleepiness.
    Potential future measures to prevent fatigued driving: More education is needed to raise awareness about the risk of driving while fatigued. Some jurisdictions have used Drowsy Driver Signs which have messages such as “Drowsy Driving Causes Crashes” or “Drowsy Drivers Next Exit 5 Kilometres.” These yellow signs were developed in order to remind drivers that drowsy driving is a very serious issue and also to inform them of possible exits where they can go to rest. There are also devices which detect driver fatigue by looking at eye lid closures, head nodding, lane deviations, and warn the driver, but the validity of these devices has not yet been proven.
    Most times it's just plain common sense that is needed. Thanks to the folks at Transport Canada and you read their report, Road Safety in Canada. Log onto: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-tp15145-1201.htm#s37.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 


    
    
    
    

 

 

 

 



 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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