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Beware Fake Travel Freebies in Your Email

If you don’t know by now that you shouldn’t trust unexpected emails, especially those that promise you something for FREE!!!, then I can’t help you. But just in case you’re tempted, here’s the word on some familiar email scams making the rounds again in new guises.

Delta customers, particularly SkyMiles members, should pay attention to this advisory. The phisher baits the hook with what purports to be an email notification that the receipt for tickets you supposedly purchased is attached to the email. Well, if you haven’t bought tickets, don’t let curiousity get the better of you. Do what Delta says: Don’t click on the attachment. If you do, you’re basically saying, “Hello, virus, come on in.” The Delta advisory makes it clear the airline isn’t the source for these emails, and even recommends changing your SkyMiles PIN and keeping an eye your account. 

A quick check of the American, United, JetBlue, and Southwest websites didn’t turn up similar advisories yet. But those are obviously familiar names in air travel, and phishers like their lures big and shiny. 

Speaking of Southwest, my email inbox contained a message from “Southwest_Promotions” that wanted me to “Please Confirm your Tickets …” The message itself pulled out all the stops with the “Please claim Your FREE TICKETS” come-on. This sounds a lot like a scam that was circulating on Facebook recently. The folks at the IT security blog nakedsecurity reported on the Facebook incarnation, and described how it worked. At best, you wind up filling out online forms that help survey companies earn commissions. At worst, you’ve given way too much personal information to strangers. As the blog reports, the Southwest Facebook scam arrived on the heels of two others that claimed to represent Delta and JetBlue.

So, today’s email from someone implying a relationship with Southwest didn’t come as too much of a surprise. It wasn’t the first email scam I’ve encountered, though it is refreshing to have someone other than the deposed finance minister of a small country reach out to me. And it won’t be the last. The lesson, then, is don’t let your passion for travel be used against you by scammers, phishers, and hackers.

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