The BBB warned Friday that it has been receiving reports of scammers making phony airline ticket booking websites and fake customer service numbers.
According to the agency, the thieves are using two methods to deceive consumers. In one scheme, consumers "come across what seems like a great deal with a major airline," the BBB wrote on its website.
However, after booking the flight through the website or customer support number, consumers realize they never received a ticket.
The other fraud entices consumers with what looks like a great deal on airfares.
"But shortly after making the payment, you receive a call from the company saying that there’s been a sudden price increase or an extra charge to finalize your booking," the BBB said. "This is something a legitimate company would never do!"
In both instances, consumers call the actual airline to find out what happened, only to learn that there’s no record of their booking and that they must have bought tickets through a fake website or phone number, the BBB said.
To avoid the scams, the BBB warns consumers to research websites and companies that they aren’t familiar with and double-check the website’s URL before making payments.
"It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or imposter website without noticing," the BBB said. "Before you enter any sensitive information, double-check that you are on the right website and that the link is secure."
The agency clarified that secure links begin with "https://" and have a lock icon on the purchase page.
The BBB also advised consumers to "be wary of third-party websites," and avoid websites with no working customer service number, no physical address, typos and grammatical errors.
"Some websites appear to offer a legitimate service but are only fronts for a scam," the BBB said.
Ultimately, consumers should use their credit card to make online purchases, because fraudulent charges can typically be disputed, unlike some other forms of payment.
However, once you’ve shared any personal information on a phony site, that information can’t be taken back, the BBB warned.