Avoid Fraud: Ensure You Know To Whom You Are Talking Before Conducting Business

A ticket for a flight from Los Angeles to Vienna had to be canceled due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — and the person who was scheduled to travel still does not completely understand the reasons how or why he or she was somehow in contact with a company which is suspect to be fraudulent instead of with the airline itself.

Avoid Fraud: Ensure You Know To Whom You Are Talking Before Conducting Business

Considering this situation to be very strange, FlyerTalk member ente_09 decided to post what happened in this discussion.

A representative of the company in question “said they would convert my unusable ticket to an open ticket but this would cost $190 which I agreed to and gave them my credit card information”, according to ente_09, who thought that the customer service representative was an employee of Austrian Airlines. “They called a few days later stating his credit card bill was rejected and wanted my information again. I logged on and found out the credit card debit indeed went through to” the company in question.

Already suspicious based on the behavior of the representative via the telephone call, when ente_09 asked him who exactly they are, the response from the representative that they work out of Houston, Texas was “extremely evasive.”

That was apparently one of a number of clues that ente_09 was not doing business directly with Austrian Airlines. When ente_09 found the correct telephone number to speak with a customer service representative of Austrian Airlines, the person had “no idea who these people were and have no facilities in Houston” and that “there is no charge to generate an open ticket from a flight canceled by the virus.”

Realizing that agreeing to pay $190.00 for a service which was available at no charge was not exactly a good idea, ente_09 called the bank which issued the credit card used for the transaction to contest the charge — only to have a representative from the aforementioned company in question call ente_09 a few days later to ask why the charge of $190.00 was being contested.

“I told him that I now realize they are a fraudulent company that somehow diverted a phone call intended to go to Austrian airlines and Austrian airlines would not charge me for this creation of an open ticket”, ente_09 said — and Austrian Airlines actually did generate an open ticket from this flight. “This led to an argument where they said that if I do not pay this bill they will cancel my ticket completely and I will lose the money.”

Claiming that the customer service representatives of Austrian Airlines seemed “extremely aloof and not concerned about this issue whatsoever”, ente_09 said that “I called Austrian the next day on the legitimate number and they said the ticket has not been canceled. They said they have absolutely no knowledge of this company or how they got in the middle of this.”

Summary

If you need to conduct business with an airline — or any commercial entity, for that matter — take a moment to first ensure that you are indeed using a legitimate way to contact the company to ensure that you are not dealing with a potentially fraudulent entity. Either use the official mobile software application program of the company on your portable electronic device or visit the official Internet web site of the company in order to verify that you indeed do have the correct contact information. The word official is used in both cases because setting up an Internet web site or a mobile software application program which emulates the official versions are easier to do than you might realize.

For example, the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines is delta.com. You can type in deltaairlines.com and you will be automatically redirected to delta.com, which is legitimate — but deltaair.net is not legitimate; and you never know when someone could take advantage of that and redirect you to an Internet web site which might emulate the one for Delta Air Lines while simultaneously fooling other people in the process…

…and similar shenanigans occur with telephone numbers, as telephone numbers which are quite similar to that of the official telephone number of a legitimate company allows those who want to commit fraud to “intercept” some of the telephone calls.

Nefarious people attempt to commit fraud whenever possible; but they are especially successful during times of confusion or distress — such as during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

You should never let your guard down. Be careful as to whom you impart sensitive information…

…and if you hear an offer which does not seem right — such as charging for a service which can be obtained free of charge — immediately discontinue the communication and use the legitimate contact information to conduct business.

That one moment you take for yourself to protect yourself could save you a significant amount of problems later.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “Avoid Fraud: Ensure You Know To Whom You Are Talking Before Conducting Business”

  1. patrick says:

    “…had to be canceled due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic” Thanks for the clarification. I would have confused it with the other pandemic.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      There are currently other pandemics, patrick. One of them averages a death rate of approximately one million people per year worldwide.

      You are simply not hearing about them now because they are not the hot topic at the moment.

      You’re welcome.

  2. patrick says:

    Which pandemic is killing a million? Please educate me…

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      As many as 42.4 million people have died over almost 40 years from AIDS — of which there is still no cure…

      https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet

      …and even if you decide to refute that information, patrick, the World Health Organization lists no fewer than 19 other diseases which are currently labeled with epidemic or pandemic status:

      https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/en/

  3. Patrick says:

    Who’s refuting? Just wasn’t aware that AIDS was considered a pandemic.

    I was just curious as to what was the million person per year killer pandemic that was out there.

    I did see the WHO list of pandemics, but none fell into the big yearly killer category.

    I still think saying “2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic” is overkill (no pun intended) Saying the pandemic would be sufficient to for everyone out there. No one is going to be thinking you mean anything else… or maybe, cynical me thinks, it’s just a way to get more WEB hits when people search for 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic? 😉

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You might be surprised to learn that I do not disagree with you, Patrick.

      Actually, writing out “current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic” — as well as other ways in which I write — is one of my idiosyncrasies that I do for two reasons:

      One reason is for historical purposes: when I read an older article, sometimes pertinent information is left out because it was assumed to be known at the time, and that tends to be a minor annoyance for me.

      The other reason is because it is a writing style which is unique to me; and I want readers to instantly recognize that I wrote the article, as literally hundreds of other blogs seem to have similar writing styles.

      I actually enjoy your interactions with me, Patrick — even if they are at my expense; and that’s cool…

      1. Patrick says:

        LOL! Well I appreciate the interactions as well!
        At least I know you’ve got reasons for what you do not unlike some others who do things “just because”
        Now if I could just figure out why I never get the notifications of new posts to my gmail address I’d be ecstatic.

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          That may be due to the fact that the WordPress theme that The Gate currently uses is no longer officially supported, Patrick — so I am currently searching for a new theme.

          Please stay tuned…

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