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BOISE — A network of scammers is using Expedia Group’s name to take consumers for thousands of dollars. Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest and Pacific has received several reports in just the past several days from consumers who’ve lost as much as $3,700.

Expedia is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business with an A+ rating. In a statement, the Bellevue, Washington-based company said, “We are happy to team up with the BBB to educate people about this scam and share tips on how they can protect themselves.”

The scam begins when consumers search online, then call customer service numbers purporting to be Expedia. Customers ask the representative to confirm or change existing reservations they’ve made through the Expedia travel site. But instead of legitimate Expedia reps, they are calling phone numbers used by impostors. The impostors say their refund site isn’t working properly and the consumer needs to purchase gift cards in order to receive a refund or change bookings.

Consumers reporting this scam hail from 17 different states and Canada and, together, report losing nearly $10,000. One woman told the bureau that the scammer kept telling her to “purchase additional gift cards, saying that he had to merge the cards together,” but not to worry as she “was going to be well reimbursed.” Several customers say the fake customer service rep stayed with them on their cellphones while they purchased the gift cards.

That’s what happened when BBB Northwest + Pacific contacted one of the phony numbers and listened as the impostor tried to convince us we needed to buy gift cards, giving us a convoluted explanation of how we would get a refund. Expedia Group’s statement continues “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.”

Expedia Group is taking steps to counteract these impostors, including working with popular search engines to reduce the occurrence of fake ads, making its customer service contact number more visible and adding info about these scams to its customer service portal.

BBB Northwest + Pacific offers the following tips for consumers to protect themselves:

  • Most
  • trustworthy
  • companies
  • will
  • never
  • demand
  • a
  • gift
  • card
  • as
  • any
  • form
  • of
  • payment,
  • and
  • consumers
  • should
  • never
  • have
  • to
  • pay
  • to
  • get
  • money
  • back.
  • Using
  • a
  • search
  • engine
  • does
  • not
  • guarantee
  • getting
  • the
  • correct
  • number.
  • Always
  • go
  • directly
  • to
  • a
  • website
  • to
  • find
  • contact
  • information.
  • Large
  • companies
  • often
  • have
  • a
  • “Contact
  • Us”
  • button
  • or
  • a
  • help
  • hotline
  • number
  • directly
  • on
  • their
  • web
  • page
  • Protect
  • personal
  • information.
  • Be
  • cautious
  • when
  • connecting
  • to
  • public
  • Wi-Fi
  • and
  • never
  • use
  • it
  • for
  • online
  • banking
  • or
  • entering
  • personal
  • or
  • financial
  • information.

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Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific.

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