EUGENE, Ore. -- A new scam is targeting travelers across the U.S. and Canada, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Many have reported the scam over the past few days, and in the Northwest and Pacific region alone, consumers have lost as much as $3,700.
According to reports, a network of scammers is using Expedia Group’s name.
People fall victim to the scam when they search for the legitimate, Washington-based company’s customer service number and find the fake, scam number.
The impostors claim that the refund site isn’t working and the caller needs to buy gift cards in order to receive a refund or change their bookings.
When the BBB contacted one of the fake numbers, they said the impostor told them they needed to buy gift cards and provided a convoluted explanation of how they would get a refund.
"Say you want to change your travel plans and you're looking for a refund like we're seeing in many of these cases, you should never have to pay money up front," says Dawn Johnson from the BBB of the Pacific Northwest.
Expedia is working with the BBB to spread the word.
“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 working hard to identify ways to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Some of the ways Expedia is responding to the issue include working with search engines to reduce the occurrence of fake ads, making its customer service contact number more visible and adding information about the scams to its customer service portal.
In total, consumers from 17 states and Canada have reported losing nearly $10,000.
What can you do?
The BBB reminds consumers that most trustworthy companies will never demand a gift card as a form of payments, and you should never have to pay to get money back.
Also, consumers should be careful when using a search engine, because searches do not guarantee you will get the correct number. The BBB said people should always go directly to a website for contact information.
Lastly, it’s important to protect your personal information. The BBB said you should be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi and never use it for online banking or entering personal or financial information.