Over 148 million people make use of online reservations on a global scale, whether it is for flights, accommodation or tourist activities. According to Rezdy, more than 57% of annual travel reservations are made online.
With online booking platforms growing on a daily basis, scammers see this as the perfect opportunity to target this fast pace industry. 25% of travellers in the United States alone are scammed when making a hotel booking online.
Nearly 1 in 4 travelling Americans reported that they had been misled to think that they are booking on a reputable hotel website, only to find out that it was a scam. This figure has increased from the 6% of travellers that had reported being duped by a lookalike site in 2015.
That fact that there are so many accommodation websites, makes it easier for scammers to exploit innocent travellers. Bookings are typically made through smaller lookalike sites that are shut down after a quick buck has been made and all evidence has been wiped out. By creating a dupe website, scammers can acquire your credit card details and disappear in no time.
It is advised that travellers looking to book online only use reputable service providers who are well known.
Travellers are also advised to be very cautious of websites that ask you to pay via bank transfer or with debit cards, as this should raise red flags.
There are several precautions to take when booking a hotel online:
1. Always check the URL of the booking site – legit sites will almost always have secure sites that begin with the characters https://.
2. Be aware when making a non-refundable payment – if there’s a limited time hotel deal, payment details will be taken but no charge will be made until you arrive, or when you leave.
3. It’s advisable to rather use a credit card for payment, as there is more protection against fraud than what debit cards have.
When in doubt, you can always contact the hotel directly. Legit travel operators will have no problem answering any questions to give you peace of mind.
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