Fake Hotel Bookings: How to Minimize Risk

Online hotel bookings happen every day.  More and more consumers are utilizing the web to reserve their hotel accommodations.   But what if you arrived, only to find you had no reservation despite the charge to your card? Travel fraud is on the rise, with recent estimates as high as 25% of consumers being scammed.  Cybercriminals are pocketing more than $1.3 billion in fake reservations, and their tactics only getting better.  Some of the scam sites are using as many as 50 domain names similar enough to the real hotel name that the average consumer wouldn’t notice the difference at first glance.  So what can you do to make sure your temporary oasis is legit?  Here’s five things you can do to minimize your risk of booking a fake hotel.

  1. Double check the website’s URL.  Make sure you are on the actual hotel website and not a third party vendor using the hotel identity.  Does the search bar have a small lock sign?  The URL should always start with https://.  No “s” means the site in unsecured and is a huge flashing sign to book elsewhere.
  2. Call the hotel directly and confirm the booking.  This will also enable you to relay any special requests such as wheelchair accessibility and verify any additional fees you may incur.
  3. Look out for marketing designed to make you rush and book immediately.  “Book now!” “Only two rooms left!”  Even legitimate third party vendors do not have access to complete hotel inventories.
  4. Use your credit card, not your debit card.  If the site is phony, you can protest the charges to your card.  It also eliminates the risk of the cybercriminal gaining access to your entire bank account.
  5. Be cautious if anyone contacts you unsolicited and states they are from the hotel.  Particularly if they tell you there was a problem processing your payment, requests for credit card information or offers for a better deal.  It’s worth hanging up and contacting the hotel directly.

On the flip side, if you own a hotel business your company is under just as much of a threat as your clients.  Phishing attacks and email scams affect 76% of organizations and some of these cybercriminals actually copy your complete website! Contact Petronella Computer for an IT Security Risk Assessment and Security Awareness Training.