Fake Hotel Booking Sites Are Popping Up Everywhere — Here’s What We Know

Opened door of hotel room with key in the lock
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Hotel deal websites pop up so quickly that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

So, as a traveler, how do you know you’re getting a good price from a site that actually reserves a hotel room for you instead of running off with your credit card information?

The American Hotel and Lodging Association has partnered with the Better Business Bureau to alert consumers of potential scams. The BBB’s recent report on scams discovered that people 55 and up are most susceptible to travel scams.

Scam booking sites often look legitimate and even have photos of the hotel in question. But many of them require you to call to “book” your room, and it’s at that point that a booking agent — really just a call center scammer — pressures you into booking before the hotel “sells out.”

Some scam sites don’t even have listings for real hotels, an AHLA representative told Consumer Affairs.  

How to Avoid Hotel Booking Scams

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all tip for avoiding travel scams. Most of them, the BBB explains, are common sense: Book directly through the hotel or choose a third-party booking site wisely; plan ahead; and don’t trust notices or calls that say you’ve won a trip.

Making a reservation through the hotel itself often gets you the best rate, anyway.

Booking through secure sites is a good rule of thumb to follow. If you don’t see “https” at the beginning of the URL, the BBB recommends thinking twice before entering your credit card information.

And always book travel with a credit card for additional purchasing protection.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.