A network of scammers is using Expedia’s name to take consumers for thousands of dollars by having them purchase gift cards and saying their refund site is not working properly.
Better Business Bureau Northwest (BBB) has received several reports in the past several days from consumers who have fallen victim to the scam.
The scam begins when consumers search online, then call customer service numbers purporting to be Expedia. Customers ask the representative to confirm or change existing reservations they’ve made through the Expedia travel site, but instead of legitimate Expedia representatives, they are calling phone numbers used by impostors. The impostors say their refund site isn’t working properly and the consumer needs to purchase gift cards in order to receive a refund or change bookings.
Travelers reporting this scam hail from 17 different states and Canada and report losing nearly $10,000.
One woman told BBB that the scammer kept telling her to, “purchase additional gift cards so we can merge the cards together,” but not to worry as she, “was going to be well reimbursed.”
Several customers say the fake customer service agents stayed with them on their cell phones while they purchased the gift cards.
BBB contacted one of the fake numbers and listened as a scammer tried to convince them they needed to buy gift cards, giving them a convoluted explanation of how a refund would be issued.
Expedia, a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating, said in a statement:
“We are happy to team up with the BBB to educate people about this scam and share tips on how they can protect themselves.”
- Most trustworthy companies will never demand a gift card as any form of payment and consumers should never have to pay to get money back.
- Using a search engine does not guarantee getting the correct number. Always go directly to a website to find contact information. Large companies often have a ‘Contact Us’ button or a help hotline number directly on their website.
- Protect personal information. Be cautious when connecting to public WiFi and never use it for online banking or entering personal or financial information.
Expedia Group is taking steps to counteract the impostors, including working with popular search engines to reduce the occurrence of fake ads, making its customer service contact number more visible and adding info about these scams to its customer service portal.
Expedia’s statement continues:
“Our goal is always to ensure travelers have a seamless and trouble-free booking experience with us, and it’s incredibly unfortunate that scammers have disrupted our customers’ well-deserved vacations and travel plans. Rest assured that we are also working hard to identify ways to prevent this from happening in the future.”
There are local independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Northwest & Pacific, which serves more than 15 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Hawaii and Western Wyoming.