Phony customer service support line leaves red flags for hotel guest
A simple internet search can lead you to ‘fool’s gold’ — numbers and links that look real but are illegitimate.
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Leaving Omaha the day before her cruise, Nicole Casswell needed to change her hotel reservation, so she went to Booking.com.
“I guess the one thing I want people to know is don’t Google customer service numbers, go to the actual website,” Casswell said.
Nicole filed a report with the Better Business Bureau. She tells the BBB president a suspected phony booking agent told her to buy a $133 gift card for a new reservation.
“I was suspicious at first when he asked for the gift card,” Casswell said. “Then he said it was a Booking.com gift card, which changed to a Google Play gift card, and then after I had bought this one, he said, ‘That’s not enough; we need you to buy another gift card,’ and at that point, I said, ‘We’re done.’”
A simple internet search can be fool’s gold.
“They have a link that’s a look-alike link,” said BBB Regional President Jim Hegarty. “It looks like you’re connecting with Booking.com, but in actuality, you are not.”
But Nicole gave the phony booking agent the number on the back of the gift card he told her to buy, so that money is gone.
What the BBB can do is put out a warning: If you’re asked to get a gift card to send in money and get money back in a refund, then that’s a big red flag.
6 News asked Nicole to call the number again that she thought was for Booking.com customer service. The line said, “The person you are trying to reach is not accepting calls.”
“I think I was just taken advantage of,” Casswell said.
Nicole says it’s a lesson for any traveler that searching an online customer service booking site may pull up the same name, but a number operating under a different umbrella.
Our numerous messages to Booking.com have not been answered.
The BBB offers another tip: Gift cards are among the most popular payment methods scam artists will tell you to use.
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