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Scammers are able to intercept your call to United Airlines Customer Service

On June 26, 2023, at approximately 10:17 a.m. I called United Airlines (UAL) customer service at (800) 864-8331.  After a very short wait a person answered, and I began to explain why I was calling.  At a point in the call the connection was lost and my phone immediately received an incoming call.  I answered and the caller apologized for the interrupted connection.  (A subsequent review of my telephone call logs revealed that this call originated from (914) *****).   At the time  I assumed it was still the UAL representative and I continued to explain the issue with my reservations.  He gave me his direct call back number as (845)***** and identified himself as Clive.  He asked, and I provided the UAL confirmation codes, the passenger names, and dates of birth for each passenger. 

He placed me on hold and ultimately told me that my reservation was on hold, and that the NZ taxes had not been collected by UAL when my reservations were made (or amended).  He said the issue could only be cured by collecting an additional amount of over $800 per passenger. 

Obviously I still believed that he represented UAL and questioned why UAL wasn’t responsible for the error, and that I would not consider paying that amount since it represented more than the current published airfare.  He said he would speak to the “ticket department”, and after a pause, he said they were adamant and would not reduce the price.  However, he said he would offer his personal discount coupons and could reduce the fares to a little over $600 each.

After a great deal of discussion, I decided to pay the additional amount.  I gave him my credit card information.  He sent an email asking for my authorization, by selecting a block, which I did.

He then sent an additional email which was said to contain the electronic ticket numbers and reservation details.

I noticed that the emails were not from UAL, and that there was a travel company name in the fine print.

He said that was a contractor that UAL had to collect ticket payments.

During the course of the conversation, I called him once (on the previously mentioned direct number) and he called me back twice as evidenced by my telephone calling log.  The number recorded for his calls to me was (845) *****. 

At one point after I had given him my DOB, he laughed and said ---. -, 1992.  I asked what he was saying, and he said his birthday was the same month and day as mine but 1992.

He also said he would provide me with an additional flight credit coupon and when I purchased my next airline tickets to call him and mention Voucher #114929. 

After ending the call, I began a Google search using the company names and phone numbers that I had and became very suspicious.  Further searches and inquiries seemed to point to the fraudulent nature of the transaction and conversation.

I checked my credit card and originally the transaction was not processed, but eventually it appeared as Pending and the amount was $1800.

None of my online inquiries with UAL or ANZ indicated any change in ticketing pricing or reservation changes.

I called the UAL number again and waited a considerable time before an agent answered.  After a number of questions and checks in an attempt to verify the transaction I spoke to the agent’s supervisor who identified himself as “Steve ID# *****”.  He advised me that he thought I had been the victim of fraud.  He or his agent checked all accounting information and couldn’t find any charge or receipt of the $1800 by UAL.  He did correct the reservation error, which he believed was due to ANZ canceling a flight due to an incorrect flight number.  There was no charge for the correction since it was outside my control and was probably a flight number change.

He checked the call telephone call in logs and said there was no record of my 10:17 a.m. call, however he said calls are only logged when an agent picks up the call.  He said one of the telephone numbers associated with the transaction (that I provided to him) was on their “Fraud list”.  He said he would notify the UAL fraud department of this incident.  I made it clear to him that my call to UAL that morning was obviously intercepted by some method by someone posing as a UAL agent.  I asked him to also ask the UAL fraud investigators to contact CitiCards, due to their (CitiCards) reluctance in pursuing or recognizing fraud.

I had attempted to Dispute the transaction online but the automated message from CitiCards blocked the dispute until the transaction was no longer pending. After the transaction is confirmed the web site will then accept a dispute.  Obviously, I didn’t see the reason for a known fraudulent transaction to be completed before I disputed it, so I called CitiCards fraud department. 

The representative, who identified himself as Shahbaaz also suggested that I wait a few days after the transaction is processed and then file a dispute.  I objected to that suggestion, and he ultimately said he was immediately flagging the transaction, which would block the payment, and was canceling my card.

I accepted this as the best course of action.

I also informed him that, although this was an obvious fraud, federal law allowed me 24 hours to cancel flight reservations and that I had sent a reply to the email sender that I was canceling the payment and reservation within the 24-hour time period.  He acknowledged to me that he understood.

Again I want to emphasize that my telephone call log shows that I called the UAL customer service 800 number and that a connection was made for just under 1 minute, then a call (from the scammer) was received- which I thought was UAL calling me back after my call was dropped.

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