West Michigan couple scammed with travel voucher


When a West Michigan couple lost their travel voucher to a scammer, they needed help, so they called 13 ON YOUR SIDE.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Airlines are seeing an increase in travel, and many people are looking to use the vouchers they received after canceling flights during the pandemic.

But with this increase comes a rise in the number of scammers posing as travel agencies to steal voucher information and pocket the money.

This is something that caused a lot of confusion and frustration for a local couple. We spoke with them in this week’s Money Guide.

“Debbie bought a ticket to visit her friend in Wales in 2020 and before she could use it the whole COVID nightmare hit us so the flight was cancelled,” Don explained. Negus, who lives in Remus.

United issued Debbie an electronic travel certificate, or voucher, via email for $1,095.05 that she could use to travel through August 2023. But when she went to redeem it, the turmoil began.

“They couldn’t find her they said too bad so sad. I spent another day on the phone with them, forwarded the email to them… they said unfortunately she had already used his refund. I was like WHAT?” Don said.

Security teams from major airlines are working with Google to stop what likely happened.

“When you went to redeem your voucher, what did you do? asked Meredith TerHaar of 13 ON YOUR SIDE.

“You called United reservations,” Don told Debbie.

“How did you find this number? Meredith asked.

“Online, via Travelocity,” Debbie said.

“No, you just Googled it,” Don said.

Fraudulent travel companies compete for the words Google Ad. So when you use Google, for example United customer service, and click on a top link, you may end up with a scammer’s phone number , instead of your airline.

Thinking they were talking with a real United Airlines employee, it’s likely they shared key information over the phone, giving the scammers everything they’d need to steal the voucher.

“Yes, I did. I gave them your ticket number, your confirmation, your reservation number. Yes, we gave them all the information,” Don said.

Shortly after 13 ON YOUR SIDE contacted United to ask about the case, they called Don.

“They were very nice, very apologetic, they just said we were both scammed and they were going to email us a refund.”

United says the best way for customers to find the United phone number is directly on United.com.

The couple are satisfied with the result.

“I had heard about 13 ON YOUR SIDE and we needed someone on our side, so we called you and here we are. Thanks to you, we have a full refund again…tada!”

Again, Googling to find a phone number is no longer a safe practice. Go directly to your airline’s website to make sure you are doing business with the company in question.

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