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Hotel Booking Scams Are on the Rise, Costing Americans Up to $220M Per Year

Americans are losing millions of dollars every year thanks to online hotel booking scams.

Travelers booking hotels online are often victims of internet scams, with Americans losing an estimated $220 million to such scams each year. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), as many as 2.5 million American travelers are getting scammed annually, and the hotel trade group is calling on lawmakers take action.

The AH&LA has contact Congress and the attorney general’s office to try and figure out a way to fix this issue. As a result of the association’s efforts, five members of Congress have written letters to the attorney general urging the Justice Department to spread word about the problem.

Many of these scams are carried out professionally, with scammers tricking travelers into book lodging on a fake site that has copied all the logos and emblems of legitimate sites. The scam artists, in some cases, will take a “commission” of sorts out of the reservation or simply take the guest’s deposit without make an actual reservation.

Maryam Cope, vice president for government affairs at the AH&LA, told the Los Angeles Times that smartphone usage may be partially to blame for the increase in scams. According to Cope, one in three hotel stays are booked online, with a large number of those reservations being made on small, sometimes hard-to-read, smartphones.

“If you book the room online you may not find out there is a problem until you show up at the front desk,” said Cope. “[Bogus sites] are not getting cracked down on for this. And until they do, they will continue to do it … If the hotel booking site doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. If you suspect something, call the hotel directly.”

[Photo: iStock]

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3 Comments
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trajanc May 8, 2015

I call that a hotel trade association pulling numbers out of their butt to scare people into boooking directly with hotels.

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TaipeiWang May 8, 2015

I call that click bait :)

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OskiBear May 7, 2015

Wow - this was enormously helpful. Plenty of examples. Instruction on how to look for and avoid scams.