HOUSTON - When a flight is canceled or delayed, many travelers reach out to airlines on social media for fast service. But several airlines are warning of impostor social media accounts that are responding to them.
We tested this out. It took just minutes to find a fake.
I tweeted for help, tagging real accounts for Southwest and Frontier Airlines. Both real airlines' immediately asked me to DM my confirmation number.
But minutes later, an X account with the handle @Fronteir_care, with Frontier misspelled and only one follower asked for my phone number. The real Frontier confirmed this was a fake account.
Six other accounts also responded to me, none of which were verified Frontier accounts, asking for things like my email address or WhatsApp number.
"Sometimes these fake accounts will respond to this consumer and pretend like they are the real company when they're really not," explained Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau.
Airlines, including Frontier, Spirit, and Air New Zealand, have pinned warnings on their social media pages about accounts impersonating airlines, responding when consumers are posting requests for help.
"If you are interacting with a scammer on social media, then you could potentially have your personal information compromised if they ask for something like that," said Napoliello.
You'll recall we reported about travelers filing complaints with the BBB that they had Googled for major airlines, but said the phone numbers they found led them to Fly Vault Travels.
"They started out, 'Spirit Airlines, how may I help you?'" said traveler Rose Ingle.
Our investigation revealed Fly Vault Travels has been operating out of a Houston home.
We knocked on the door and spoke with a man inside.
"Have you been telling people you’re actually real airlines when you’re not?" we asked.
"Ok, I’m going to check with my assistant what he thinks and then get back to you," he answered.
A company spokesperson told us by phone that they do not identify themselves as airlines.
Whether you search online for an airline, or tweet with one, Napoliello suggests, "Make sure it's verified and also go to the company's website. They should have links to their social media, so you can see all their social media contacts."
Other tips from the BBB:
- Look for a check mark verifying the airlines' authentic accounts,
- Communicate with an airline through their app, or find their contact information there,
- Use their website chat feature,
- Or go to the airline desk or lounge to speak with someone in person.