Companies rarely ask us for help. On most days, it’s usually the other way around: We’re asking them to help us with a case.
Today, Expedia asked us put the word out about a scam that’s rippling through the travel world. We’re happy to assist, of course.
Expedia reports it’s hearing from customers who say they’ve “won a prize” from the company. All they have to do is press “1” for more information.
The customer is then called back or connected to a person at the “Expedia call center” who asks them to pay a small sum — typically $59 — in order to receive a prize.
The prizes, according to the scammers, include cash cards, rewards points, trips, vouchers and credits for future travel.
And, you probably guessed it, the prizes don’t exist.
Making the offer more convincing for some, the mock representative often appears to be calling from a number that matches the same first six digits of the “winner’s” number.
They just happened to be in the neighborhood. Right.
What should you do if you receive this call?
Just hang up, says Expedia. It’s a scam.
Expedia is working with the Washington State Office of the Attorney General to alert consumers and advise them not to compromise any personal information or make payments to the swindlers.
The scammers have good timing. Prices on travel tend to drop after Labor Day, so a giveaway like this is almost plausible. And the bad guys know it.
The Expedia scam is not a new one. WestJet had to deal with the same issue last year when its customers were receiving fraudulent calls that they were big winners.
The Better Business Bureau is also warning Labor Day travelers to watch out for vacation cons. It’s reminding travelers to proceed with caution before booking any bargain last-minute trips.
Forget verbal confirmations, says the BBB. Get trip or offer details in writing, including confirmation numbers, trip cost, flight, hotel and rental car details as well as any applicable restrictions.
That’s sound advice.
And don’t trust claims that you’ve “won” a trip. If an offer shows up unsolicited and you have to pay to receive a gift, it’s likely a rip-off and something to avoid.
There’s a silver lining, though. Times like these help us remember what can happen when businesses and consumers work together to fight scams.
And Expedia, we may have our differences, but we are with you on this one. Let’s end this scam together, for everyone’s sake.