This Billion Dollar Hotel Scam Could Have Already Stolen Money from You

Don't fall for this money-stealing scheme.


Planning a trip used to require a trip in itself—a drive into town to your local travel agent, who would make sure your trip to Kokomo would run as smoothly as possible, for a price. The hassle saved you the hassle, but now the hassle that saved you the hassle has been replaced by travel sites that do the haggling for you.

However, the Internet created a whole new canvas for con artists to paint their webs of deception. It all starts with a simple search; you’re interested in getting away for the weekend, so you type in your destination or maybe even the phrase “travel site” into Google.

You innocently select one of the first sites that come up, and you go ahead and book your well-deserved vacation. While everything may look legitimate on the site itself, that sketchy third party site could be charging you an exorbitant inflated rate (usually a 25 percent bump) and skimming that difference for their own wallets. 

If you’re lucky, your reservation will still go through, and you’ll just be out some Benjamins. But in plenty of instances, no reservation will be made at all and that dream you had of a lovely honeymoon at your local La Quinta has flown out the window. 

Each year, 55 million bookings are affected by this scam, leading to around $4 billion dollars lost. In order to evade this scheme, be sure to check the legitimacy of the travel site you’re on. The site may use stolen images and copy from reliable hotel chains, so be sure to make sure that nothing else is amiss, like the site’s contact page, privacy policy, and site map. If you’re still unsure, get in contact with your prospective hotel’s customer service department, and find out if the company has any dealings with the travel site.
Now, if you manage to find your way out of getting scammed during the booking process, you’re still not completely out of the woods. Follow these 22 hotel tips to guarantee a good vacation, or if any old hotel isn’t your bag, try one of these awesome alternative locales.

[Source: Travel + Leisure]