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Holidaymakers are being warned about a rise in scams where fake social media accounts are used to impersonate airlines.

Bogus accounts exist for every major UK airline on X, formerly known as Twitter, and are regularly used to trick customers into giving away their personal data, according to the consumer champion Which?

It added that X is too slow to take down offending accounts.

The social media platform said accounts that impersonate organisations may be permanently suspended under its “misleading and deceptive identities policy”.

It previously told Which? that it had taken down all of the fake accounts identified by the consumer group.

The scam often happens when a frustrated customer reaches out to an airline to try to fix a problem, said Which?

It said scammers crawl social media – often using bots, a type of automated software – to find such interactions.

They then respond to the query or complaint, hoping that the customer will not notice they are being contacted by a fake account.

Which? gave the example of a researcher who contacted the genuine Wizz Air X account, @wizzair, asking if a flight was delayed, and almost immediately received responses from two fake accounts.

“Both used near-identical language, apologising for the inconvenience, stating that they had ‘already escalated this matter to the relevant department’ and requesting a ‘reachable WhatsApp number for assistance’ via DM [direct message],” it said.

Scammers will often ask customers to send them sensitive personal data, or direct them to phishing websites where their credit card details can be harvested.

Some fraudsters also claim customers are entitled to compensation or ask for a small fee to resolve the issue.

Which? said it had found bogus X accounts impersonating every major airline operating in the UK including British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Tui, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air.

It said reporting fake accounts to X “seems to have limited effect” and that most of the bogus posts and accounts it flagged “were still live at the time of writing”.

An X spokesperson told the BBC: “On X, you may not misappropriate the identity of individuals, groups, or organisations or use a fake identity to deceive others.

“Accounts that pose as another person, group, or organisation in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under X’s misleading and deceptive identities policy.”

Airlines are urging customers to be wary of fake accounts and not share personal data on social media.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “We advise customers to only follow and engage with our sole official channel @easyJet, which is identifiable by the gold verification badge for official businesses, for the latest updates or to seek support and to be vigilant and to not engage with or click on any links from other accounts.”

A Wizz Air spokesperson said: “We continue to report fake social media accounts and would like to remind customers to never give their personal details out on these channels. Passengers should contact customer service via our claims or call centres.”



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