“Your Miles are Expiring Give Us Money” Phone Call Scam

Dan R. emails about a phone call his wife received. She was told she had 50,000 American AAdvantage miles expiring but she could extend them for a year for $100, payable by credit card over the phone.

Now, when you extend the validity of American Airlines AAdvantage miles they’re good for an additional 18 months — not just a year. And aside from AAdvantage not generally calling you about expiring miles, this person hasn’t had activity with American since 2010. Their miles are long gone.

She’s not the first to report a call like this.

Neighbor had an urgent message about her American miles which would expire in four days. If she calls an 866 number she can pay $150 to stop the expiration. Otherwise could cost up to $900. Message states she has 105,922 AA miles.

In fact, she has way more miles and regularly uses [American Airlines] flights, most recently a week ago. Also has an Citi [American Airlines] credit card in regular use.

Make sure that the information you’re getting on the phone is accurate. Verify that the phone number belongs to the loyalty program in question. Don’t just give your credit card number for payment because someone scares you into urgent action — the price goes up tomorrow! — that’s not how these things work.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hmmm. What kind of data breach allowed the scammers to know who has AA accounts and their phone numbers? Seems like it wouldn’t be cost effective to cold call everyone.

  2. You transposed the validity dates. You meant to write: “They’re good for an additional 18 months – not a year” (NOT “they’re good for an additional year – not 18 months”).

  3. Rule #1. Don’t give any credit card number to anyone who initiates a call to you.If you think the call might be legitimate, get off the line, call the company’s known number yourself, and talk to someone there.

  4. Rico: Many scammers find it easier to shoot in the dark than bother with gathering accurate information. For example, I routinely get calls or emails about my “account with XYZ bank” when I have never had any relationship with that bank.

    DaveS: Best advice to anyone who receives such mail or call! I thank them and hang up. If I think there might be something to it, I call the institution myself, and only call the number I have from my statements / credit card etc, never the number this stranger gave me.

  5. @DaveS: I take that a step further. I don’t give ANY personal information to people that call me and tell me they’re from XYZ Company. I ask for a good callback number then Google it to see if it’s legit. They usually hang up after this question.

  6. I take the extreme route: I don’t answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number, unless I’m expecting a call.

  7. I tried to follow the rules once of not saying “yes” when asked “is this Mr Leef?” Because some how they can take that “Yes” recorded in my voice and use it to do other things. The very next day, I answered my home phone, and said “yes” exactly to that question. Now I say “it is” if I answer and if I believe the caller is legit.

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