“Don’t open the link.”
That’s the advice from airlines currently being victimized by phishing email scams that also victimize travelers who fall for them since most seek airline customer information including credit card numbers.
As air travel analyst Rick Seaney has said, clicking on the links in these emails can send you to sites that look like “the actual airline website” but don’t be fooled.
Which Airlines are Targets
Southwest and other major U.S. airlines have now issued alerts about the scams. See some of the details here but click the carrier’s name for more information about the airline warnings.
- American – Latest scam email has subject line reading, “Your order has been completed”
- Delta – Emails claim order has been completed, new tickets purchased and more
- Southwest – Fraudulent messages about “free tickets”
- United – No new scams reported but the airline directs customers with concerns to contact page
- US Airways – Scams include fake ticket confirmation numbers and more
So far, there is no information about any scam emails directed at customers of AirTran, JetBlue or Virgin America but this could change at any time.
What are Phishing Scams?
Phishing scams are nothing new. FareCompare reported on a rash of these fake emails during last summer’s busy travel season. In essence, these are phony messages with intriguing subject lines (“You’ve won two free tickets”) that prompt people to open the messages. Clicking the links, as Rick Seaney notes, can take you to a site that looks real and requests more information which can cost you. “They can get your loyalty program number and your credit card number if you store it with the airline,” he said, “Then they can start booking tickets that you are charged for.”
If you have any questions at all about an airline email – for example, if you did not make any reservations or did not enter any airline contest – do not click links in suspicious emails. Go to the airline’s actual website for more information or contact them directly.