GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving West Michigan is warning consumers of a growing scam where criminals impersonate major travel brands, hoping to confuse travelers into making unnecessary payments.

The scam often asks travelers to pay with a prepaid gift card, and the BBB says a growing number of complaints involve scammers impersonating booking.com.

Complaints allege the consumer thought they were reaching out to booking.com to make a change to their travel plans to get a refund. Often the consumer finds the phone number online through a search or on social media.

The person answering the phone identifies themselves as working for booking.com. They tell the customer that to complete the change, they must go to the store and purchase hundreds of dollars worth of prepaid gift cards. The impersonators promise the money will be refunded.

Once the payment has been given, the scammers find a reason to ask for more money, often claiming the card didn't work.

In response to the scam, booking.com notes that it is one of several companies being targeted by impostors. The company says its own investigation has found impostors have created fake customer service numbers and posted them online in hopes of luring in travelers who are searching for a way to contact booking.com.

They offer the following advice:

  • Only contact Booking.com through our official communication channels listed on our website and/or apps.
  • No legitimate transaction (e.g. payments and/or reservation changes) with Booking.com will ever require you to specifically pay with gift cards or require you to give your credit card details by phone, text message or email.
  • Never provide any credit card or gift card details (such as the claim code) to someone you don't know/trust.

If you believe you were a victim of the scam or have been targeted, report your experience to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.

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