Really! See for yourself! I’ve been selected to receive two round trip airfares to anywhere in the United States. It says so in this post card I received in the mail the other day.
And it’s from American Airlines. I’ve got to give them a call and claim my prize! You know me – I love to travel, especially when I can cash in on a fab deal.
But that’s not the only special travel offer I’ve “won” this week. I also received a similar “award” from US Airlines. The letter states that I’ve just qualified for two round trip airline tickets worth up to $1229, and valid for travel anywhere in the U.S. I have to move fast to claim my prize though. This offer ends in two days. Apparently US Airlines has been trying to contact me for a while now. That’s what the letter says.
I sure am lucky! Maybe I should play the lottery. Or maybe I should investigate these ticket offers before dialing that number. ‘Cause I might have just caught a fishy offer!
Beware of Phish Bites And Other Deceptive Offers
Have you received a similar “awesome” airline ticket offer? You may want to hold off on that phone call! Here’s why. My two ticket offers? Something didn’t “feel right” about either one of them. Here’s four red flags that had me suspecting deceptive marketing practices were in play with both of these offers:
Red flag #1 – I had no recollection of ever entering a contest with American Airlines, US Airlines, or other similar travel related contest.
Red flag #2 – The fine print on the American Airlines offer. You can read it in the lower left corner. Barely! I had to use a magnifying glass. Reading these particular words set my internal scam radar detector on high alert:
“All components of this offer are fulfilled by a third party. Certain restrictions apply. Recipient is responsible for all applicable taxes and fees.”
Red flag #3 – That US Airlines logo just didn’t look right. Oh wait, there is no US Airlines! It’s US Airways. Or maybe it’s United Airlines. Hmmm. Either way, words can be deceiving.
Red flag #4 – Both offers arrived via bulk rate mail. If you’ve really won a big prize, you probably aren’t going to be notified by bulk mail.
Time to get to the bottom of these questionable offers. It didn’t’ take long to discover that neither offer was “simply” about airline tickets and that neither offer was from the actual airlines. In reality, both offers were from a third party selling something else. You call them, they bombard you with a high pressure sales tactic designed to part you from your hard earned money.
Here’s the full scoop from the Better Business Bureau and the real airlines.
- Post Card Offers Free Airline Tickets, Delivers Sales Presentation – BBB
- SCAM Alert: American Airlines name being used in fake ticket scam – BBB
- Scam Alert – US Airways
- US Airlines Scam Letter Investigation by WGAL News8
Yikes! Time to shred my so-called airline ticket awards. Don’t know about you, but I’d consider both of these offers to be deceptive marketing.
Arm Yourself Against Deceptive Marketing Practices
Unfortunately scams, phishing and other deceptive, sometimes fraudulent marketing ploys are everywhere. What should you do if you suspect deceptive marketing is at play? Trust your instincts! And then check it out before you call that 1-800 number or click on that email to claim your “prize.” And if you find that it is a scam, report it.
Not sure where to start searching the validity of that fishy offer? Here are four resources to help you spot a deceptive marketing offer before you get sucked in.
1. The Scam Detector Website and App
During my research of the two airline ticket offers I discovered Scam Detector. It’s now my new best friend for researching suspect deceptive marketing tactics. Spam Detector is one of the largest fraud prevention resources in the world. It’s also an official partner with the Better Business Bureau, the Identity Theft Resource Center and several other fraud prevention organizations. Scam Detector helps you keep on top of the latest scams, checking up on who’s “out there” phishing for your information.
Scam Detector’s mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices are also great for on the go investigations.
2. The Better Business Bureau
- Scammers Lure Victims With Fake Free Plane Tickets
- Don’t Let Ticket Scams Ruin Your Disney Vacation
- 5 Easy Ways to Avoid Sports Ticket Scams
- Scammers Prey On Those Looking for Good Deals Online
- Scammers Fool eBay Sellers With Fake PayPal Emails
Scammers and phishers focus where we all want to find a deal – and travel is high on that list. If that deal sounds scammy, or smells a bit like phish, see what the BBB has to say about it before you click on that email link, or dial that 1-800 number.
3. The Identity Theft Resource Center
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is the go-to resource to help keep your identity safe. Learn how to protect yourself from being phished with their helpful tips on recent scams and alerts to phishing attempts.
4. Search The Internet
Searching scams and phishing activities via the internet is a quick and easy way to find out whether or not that offer is suspect. That’s how I discovered the truth behind my airline ticket offers.
Be On The Watch – Spot A Phish Before It Bites!
Be diligent my friend. Very diligent. Don’t get caught in a deceptive marketing trap such as these airline tickets. Because of course those deceptive offers are going to say something enticing, like – YOU WON! Not – You’re about to be SCAMMED!
As the old saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is! And the new saying, if it smells like a phish, it might just be a phish.
Have you received one of these “awesome” airline ticket offers? How do you protect yourself from scams, phishing, and other deceptive marketing techniques? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Images from C.Biederman, Scam Detector, Fish via Flicker (Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig).