Scammers are using Expedia’s customer service platform to rip off consumers by posing as company employees. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), these imposters have stolen approximately $10,000 from customers who have booked travel arrangments through Expedia. Some customers have even lost up to $3,700 because of the scam.
After customers book their travel arrangements, they’ll contact customer service to either confirm or change their plans. Their call will be answered by what they believe to be an Expedia representative who then informs the customer that the refund portion of the website is currently inoperable.
The scammer impersonating the Expedia rep will request the customer to purchase gift cards so that a refund or change can occur. Since the scammers don’t actually work for Expedia, customers’ transactions are not going toward the purchase of anything. Instead, the imposters are receiving money straight to their bank accounts.
One woman told the BBB that the fake representative instructed her to buy multiple gift cards that he would merge together. These types of “microtransactions” tend to not raise suspicion. It has been reported that the imposters stayed on the phone while customers bought the gift cards.
One of the first things that the BBBNW+P (BBB that serves the northwest and pacific regions) did was call one of the fake numbers in order to receive first-hand experience with the scam. The phony representative gave the same instruction of purchasing gift cards in order to receive a refund or change previously booked travel plans.
The Expedia Group issued the following comment:
“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.”
They are also working with search engines to reduce the number of fake ads, making their customer service number more visible, as well as including scam information on their website portal. Expedia has an A+ rating with the BBB which may be why it was targeted by scammers. Company’s that are trusted by customers are often breeding grounds for scam artists.
The BBB offers several tips in order to avoid scams from those posing as company representatives within their customer service department. Don’t ever purchase gift cards in order to receive a refund. Companies will always refund your credit card or offer credit for your next purchase. BBB says you should never pay to get your own money back.
When looking for a company’s customer service number, always go to their website. Sometimes search engines won’t provide an accurate contact number so it’s best to go straight to the source. And of course, always avoid giving your credit card information over the phone or while using public WiFi.