Peter never thought it would happen to him. Working for a major telecommunications company, he assumed he was wise to the many ways online scammers worked, but when booking a hotel online, he fell victim to a scam that had the potential to ruin his holiday.
Overseas visiting family, Peter made a straightforward hotel booking for a night in town. But it turns out the website on which he made his booking didn't belong to the hotel.
“The hotel was no frills, so I kind of expected its website to be too,” he told Traveltalk.
When Peter arrived at the hotel he was told there was no reservation for him. Out the cost of the hotel and having given his credit card details to a scammer, Peter was worried.
Luckily, his credit card provider were able to help arrange a new card and the hotel still had availability, but it could have been worse.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) some 55 million online hotel booking scams occur every year.
“With most consumers searching at least seven to ten websites before booking a reservation and such an elevated volume of traffic to hotel and travel websites, it’s become more common for rogue third-party online booking sites to find ways to piggy-back on legitimate hotels.
“These rogue sites trick consumers by mirroring the look and feel of the actual hotel website – using copyrighted images, trademarked logos and many times, even similar URLs – to take consumers for a ride.”
AHLA recommends, of course, that people book direct with a hotel, but often that’s what people think they are doing.
Surely, the best bet is just to book with a reputable travel agent.