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VERIFY: They might look real, but the BBB says these travel websites are scams

Consumer watchdog group Better Business Bureau says cyber criminals are creating copycat travel program sites to steal money and information

WASHINGTON — Craving some warm weather this spring break? We know how you feel... and so do cybercriminals.

So we're verifying what to look out for right now when you're scheduling a flight.

 Our source is the Better Business Bureau, who issued a warning that "scammers" are creating lookalike websites mimicking travel programs like TSA pre-check and Global Entry.

"You think that you're...actually on TSA’s website, you think that you're either working directly with a reputable third party who could help you sign up, and they do look legitimate," Kelsey Coleman, Director of Communications for the BBB in Metro - Washington, D.C.

Here’s how it works: if you search online for a travel program, chances are the true site will be near the top; however, the BBB warms you may also get copycat websites that look identical to the legit one.

RELATED: VERIFY: Beware of a text scam claiming to send pandemic relief money from the World Bank

The Better Business Bureau says those fake sites may ask you to pony up a hefty fee or fill out sensitive info.

"Even if you pay up, the company may never submit your application form through the correct channels," they warn online. "You will have lost money and shared your personal information with scammers."

Coleman says they received nationally more than 300 reports of travel and vacation fraud last year.

You can report something fishy to the BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker

“We take this information, and we give it to the FTC, the FBI, local law enforcement, again, to try to stop these schemes as a whole,” Coleman said.

Here are some steps you can take right now:

  • Double check you have the correct link 
  • Look for signs that the link is secure and starts with "https" 
  • If its a government website it should end in ".gov"

If you can, the BBB recommends paying by credit card, that way you can try and dispute it.

"It's very important to take your time and to make sure you're actually dealing with the right site," Coleman said.