If you thought scams were limited to the financial sector of the internet, you are so very wrong. You can find malicious intent in just about every nook and cranny of the internet, including the travel sector. In fact, the latest travel scam is borderline-genius. It certainly takes human nature into consideration.

The Great Airline Ticket Scam

You get an email from American Airlines. (It looks like American Airlines, anyhow). The message alerts you that your credit card has been charged for the airline ticket you’ve just purchased and the ticket confirmation is attached in a Word document. The email goes on to list some of the details about the flight including the price, the departure time and destination.

All told it looks pretty real.

Of course, it’s fake. But how can you just write that sort of thing off? What part of it is the scam, after all? Could you be the victim of credit card fraud? Or is the email trying to get information from you?

The simple nature of our cautious human nature tells us we must check our credit card accounts to be sure there isn’t a charge for an
airline ticket. And you absolutely should do this. Right away. Pull up your credit card account online and look for a recent charge by American Airlines. You won’t find one. That’s not what this particular spam is about.

Avoiding Malware

We are so accustomed to protecting our financial houses we investigate everything that could possibly be tied to finances. But this time the email isn’t looking for your bank accounts or credit card passwords. It just wants you to open the attachment.

And the temptation is mighty strong on this one. In our desire to protect our finances, we are going to inspect all details of the email to try and determine legitimacy. So it would make sense to open the attachment and see more details about the flight you’ve just purchased.


Don’t even think about it.

Go back to the fundamentals of spam and remember that you never open the attachments form an unknown sender. And this is very much an unknown sender.

The danger here is actually a macro inside the Word document that is attached. If you were to make a mistake and open the email, you’d get a message that looks like garbage instructing you to download the macro in order to read the characters. When you download the macro, you’re putting malware on your machine and the spammers have won.

Preventing Mishaps

So what do you do if you get the American Airlines email or one similar to it? Your first step is to avoid your first instinct. Do not dig for more information. Do not open the attachment. If you are concerned about your credit card, open a new window, type in the URL as you normally would and check your recent transactions.

Then, with your mind at peace about false charges report the email as spam to your email provider and continue to be mindful that spammers are always trying new approaches and strategies. Our job is to stay savvy and protect ourselves on every front – not just the financial one.

Order Confirmation for Flight # AA90182
America Airlines
To: <help@pissedconsumer.com>
From: America Airlines <orders@aa.com>
Attachments: order_AA90182.doc
Dear Customer,

Your order has been successfully processed and your card has been charged for the required amount.

ELECTRONIC 903890108
DATE MAR 12 2015

Your ticket has been attached to this order confirmation email.
Microsoft Word must be installed to open the attached document.

Thank you
America Airlines.