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Queues at Cologne-Bonn Airport

Photo: Christoph Hardt / Panama Pictures / IMAGO

Before you start a flight or trip, you should take your time to find and write down the official service telephone number of the airline, the booking portal or the tour operator. If you urgently need to speak to your airline or tour operator when you're on the move or have questions or problems that suddenly arise and you google the relevant contacts, you run the risk of ending up on fake websites or unknowingly calling scammers. The scam is currently quite widespread, warns the European Consumer Protection Center Germany (EVZ).

In such cases, the fraudsters ask you to enter or provide personal information and to download programs or apps. You shouldn't do any of this, just as you shouldn't reveal your bank or credit card details. Lufthansa also warns in its current flight information not to search for contacts using a search engine: You run the risk of ending up on fraudulent sites with false contacts. These pages aimed to collect data from customers. The company advises only using the channels listed on the official “Lufthansa.com” website to contact you and only entering data on “Lufthansa.com”.

Fake sites with often misleading domains

According to the EVZ, anyone who needs a company's hotline number on an ad hoc basis and cannot avoid using an Internet search engine should look closely at the address of the website. Because fake sites often have misleading domains. On the hotlines of the contractual partners, an announcement usually comes off the tape first, then you end up in a waiting loop. According to the information, when fraud attempts occur, there is usually a person directly on the line.

During a conversation, you should become suspicious and hang up at the very latest when software installations or confirmations are requested in your own banking app. If debits are actually made from the account or credit card, EVZ's experience shows that consumers have a difficult time getting their money back.

Fraud victims should still try and contact their own bank as quickly as possible and request a refund, the so-called chargeback. They should also file a report with the police.