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For A Stress-Free Vacation, Avoid Online Travel Booking Scams

Laptop on a desk in a hotel room

Credit: Pixabay

According to a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, in 2018 alone, approximately 23 percent of consumers were duped into booking a hotel room through a fake third-part retailer. These websites tricked people into thinking that they are reserving a room directly with the hotel, but in reality they were using a phony website set up to steal their information. This translated into cybercriminals pocketing about $5.7 billion. Now that school is out, and you are finalizing your summer vacation plans, remember to be cautious when making any sort of travel reservations online – whether it be for hotel stays, airline flights, or rental cars.

How to Avoid Online Travel Reservation Scams

  1. Watch out for fake competitions scams that will defraud you out of a fee to secure a holiday. Do not reply to unsolicited emails from people or companies you don’t recognize or anticipate.
  2. Avoid paying for a fake flight, accommodation, or holiday package by verifying the company, website, and location. Make sure to use a trusted travel company (often a well-known/reputable brand). If you’re ever uncertain about if a company is genuine, check with the Better Business Bureau .
    1. If using a hotel alternative, such apartment or home rentals, call the owner or agent directly to confirm its legitimacy. Email or request the number if it is not provided on the listing. Check reviews on Airbnb, TripAdvisor, or other similar sites.
    2. Look up the full address of the property on Google Maps to check its location and ensure that it is legitimate.
  3. Go directly to the hotel, airline, or rental car agency’s website to book your reservations. If you are not sure if you are on the real site, call the company to verify.
  4. Make sure that the link between you and the website is secure and avoid paying or uploading sensitive information over unsecured web pages. Ensure the website:
    1. Address begins with ‘https://’
    2. Has a padlock symbol next to the address in your browser.
    3. Does not contain subtle misspellings, or additional words or characters (as these may be an indication that the site is fake).
  5. Whenever possible, use a credit card instead of a debit card to pay for holiday and travel expenses. In the event cybercriminals obtain your information, you can take advantage of the additional fraud protection many credit card companies offer.
  6. After you book an online reservation, always call the company to confirm. If you have been deceived and there was no reservation made, you still have time to alert your credit card company, report the fraud, and make the reservations through the real company.
  7. After booking, check bank statements to ensure that no fraud has taken place.

One last thing to keep in mind

Be careful what and when you post on social media, as you may inadvertently advertise that your house will be empty while you are on vacation.