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Having trouble connecting with a Canadian airline? Why you need to be careful

Not everything is as it appears.
Air Canada, WestJet, and Swoop are warning about fraudulent accounts, with email and phone scams. More people are calling due to significant flight delays.

If you feel like you've been shortchanged by a Canadian airline after a negative experience, you are far from alone. 

Scores of travellers from across the country have expressed outrage after their significant flight delays and cancellations at the eleventh hour, while others have shared luggage loss horror stories

Many of these people say they experienced appalling treatment from airlines when they tried to recoup their losses, too. Some of them were re-booked on flights over a week after their original travel date while others received their luggage over a month later. 

But one significant issue that many air passengers have wrestled with over the course of the pandemic is communication with the airlines. 

Even folks looking to simply book a ticket or ask a question have experienced record wait times and other technical issues. In some cases, people were very desperate to get a hold of a customer service representative because they had a flight cancelled at the last minute and they didn't know what to do. 

Swoop warns of fraudulent accounts for Canada travel

Now, WestJet's discount carrier, Swoop, is reminding travellers that scammers use fraudulent social media accounts to access people's information. 

In a notice to the public on Sept. 13, Swoop wrote that there has been an increase in the number of cases related to fraudulent social media accounts, primarily on Facebook, impersonating the airline and its social media chatbot, Donna.

The airline notes that there are four ways you can safely connect with its representatives: Facebook Messenger from its verified Facebook Page (with a blue checkmark beside ‘FlySwoop’); Twitter direct messages; Instagram direct messages; and via its email.

To connect with Swoop, you may need to provide some qualifying information about your booking or account. Some of the things you may be asked to provide include your reservation/PNR code, first and last name, and contact information.

But the airline underscores that it will never ask you to:

  • Register on a cryptocurrency website.
  • Purchase gift cards for other companies and/or products.
  • Provide your full credit card number (online). Swoop will only ask for the last four digits of the card used.
  • Provide your password information (the airline says it never needs to know your password).
  • Provide any PayPal information (the airline says it has "no reason to need any PayPal information"). All refunds will be issued to the original form of payment, or by cheque. If there is a claim for reimbursement, Swoop will use HyperWallet to issue a payment.

Swoop has also provided information on how to identify a fake account. 

  1. Check for the blue verified flag on its real Swoop Facebook page, which confirms the authenticity of a page.

  2. Check the “About” section to assess how many followers the page has. Swoop’s official page @FlySwoop has 147K official followers.

  3. Verify page transparency data (accessible on left side of the page) by checking when the page was created. Swoop’s official Facebook page was created in 2017

  4. Posts on a fake page are pictures of Swoop’s actual posts that include comments, likes or shares in the image.

Other airlines experiencing similar issues 

Swoop isn't the only airline that has warned its customers about scammers. In January, the airline's parent company, WestJet, notified the public about bad actors that used paid online advertisements with the airline's logos in order to scam people out of money. 

“While similar to the common misdial trap which takes advantage of those who accidentally misdial WestJet’s phone number, scammers are now using paid social media and search advertisements which direct a victim to a fraudulent phone number impersonating WestJet. The objective of these calls is to gain access to the caller’s personal information or credit card details,” said Robert Antoniuk, Chief Safety, Health & Environment Officer, WestJet.

WestJet advises that customers only contact the airline through the methods listed on its website and double-check any advertised phone numbers on its contact page before dialling. While it is common for the airline's representatives to ask for your WestJet Rewards ID, they will never your account password.

Additional information on common frauds and scams targeting WestJet guests, including paid ads, phone scams, free flight giveaways, and misdial scams can be found on the airline’s advisory page under ‘scams.’ 

Air Canada has also shared information regarding scams on a dedicated anti-fraud page. The airline notes that scammers will use phony emails that look legitimate by using the airline's logos with a false claim. These emails will typically also have a link that takes you to a fake website. You should never click on the link or open any email attachments. You should immediately change your password on Air Canada's verified website if you believe you have responded to a fraudulent email.

Phone call scams may be easier to spot because they typically involve an "automated" voice that tells someone they've won a trip or some other prize from Air Canada. The individual is then asked to provide credit card information. 

If you responded to a suspicious email, gave personal information or have lost money, please call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

You can also notify Air Canada by forwarding the email to: