Photo Credit: Vladimir Yelizarov
Hotel Scams And How To Avoid Them While Traveling This Summer
The travel industry is a lucrative business, generating billions of dollars a year. But so is the business of hotel scams. In 2018, research from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) found that 23% of consumers reported being misled in some way by third-party booking sites, resulting in a loss of $5.7 billion in online hotel booking scams alone.
To avoid falling prey to scammers and becoming another statistic, it’s important to recognize some of the most common hotel scams before booking your travel this summer.
Confirm all discrepancies in person at the hotel’s front desk
This tip comes courtesy of TikTok user @Humblestartceo_wla. After checking into your hotel room, you may receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a hotel staffer at the front desk. The caller will say that something is wrong with your credit card information and ask you to verify your credit number, security code, expiration date, and zip code to confirm that it matches what is on file. In actuality, the scammer is inside the hotel calling rooms at random to collect as much credit card and billing information as possible. Should you find yourself on the receiving end of that phone call, simply respond that you will head down to the front desk to fix any discrepancies in person.
Beware of fraudulent websites
One letter can be the difference between booking your trip with a reputable site and losing your money in a scam. The AHLA estimates that “55 million online hotel bookings are affected by fraudulent websites and call centers posing as hotel websites.”
Ensure that the URL of the website where you are about to enter your personal information and credit card number is legitimate. Online scammers may create a link similar to that of well-known booking sites by using near-identical spelling or symbols in place of letters. For example, Expedia.com could just as easily become Expedio.com. If you don’t catch on in time, you may arrive at your destination with nowhere to stay and significantly less money in your bank account.
Avoid cheap prices on third party booking sites
If a hotel room price seems to good to be true, it just might be. Third-party sites offer incredibly cheap prices but travelers often find that their reservation doesn’t exist or the room they booked is vastly different in reality.
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission settled a federal lawsuit against third-party hotel booking reseller Reservation Counter, LLC. According to the FTC, the company was using, “ads, webpages, and call centers to create the impression that consumers are booking rooms directly with the advertised hotel.” Reservation Counter also did not disclose to customers that their credit card would be charged immediately instead of at check-in.
For peace of mind when traveling, your best bet is to book through your hotel directly or a travel agent.