Need to rebook a canceled flight? Beware of ‘malvertising.’


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After sitting on the runway for an extended wait, Shmuli Evers’s plane returned to the terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. The weather earlier this week was too dangerous to fly, so his 7 a.m. flight to Florida would not be taking off. Immediately, the line for Delta’s in-house customer service began to stretch through the airport, filled with passengers from his flight. Evers figured he could avoid the wait by calling Delta’s customer service hotline, so he turned to Google.

He dialed the first phone number the search engine listed.The automated voice at the number Evers called claimed to be a central customer service desk for multiple airlines, although Delta’s name was never explicitly mentioned. That was the first sign something wasn’t right.

Evers had accidentally called a number added to Google by potential scammers in place of the actual Delta customer service number. Like other consumers in recent years, he didn’t know that search results can be manipulated by scammers. It’s called “malvertising.”

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