Travel scams affect everyone, including those who are booking business travel. Even Internet savvy travel planners and consumers have been known to fall for many common scams. Learning how to avoid travel scams is typically a matter of identifying fraud and knowing how to prevent it.
Beware of the unknown booking website
Hotel room booking scams abound online. Keep in mind that creating a professional-looking website is not terribly difficult. Neither is stealing brand logos, photos of hotel rooms, and marketing copy from legitimate hotel websites. Scammers can put together a website that seems legitimate but only exists to steal your personal and financial information while failing to actually book the travel that you need.
While there are several legitimate third-party booking sites online, there are many more that are not legitimate, or that may offer rates that are not always honored by travel vendors, such as hotels. While it can be difficult to tell a legitimate site from one that engages in shady business practices, some telltale signs include poor grammar, awkward phrasing or spelling mistakes on the website.
Check the URL and branding
Prevention of fraud in travel also involves checking website domain names and branding information. Unfortunately, some scammers have been known to set up websites using a URL that is very close to that of a legitimate hotel brand or third-party booking site. Check for things like extra or missing letters, or slight misspellings. Scammers regularly purchase domain names that can confuse customers into thinking that they are working directly with a hotel chain or well-known travel website.
Protect your loyalty points
Internet criminals will sometimes run hotel scams for free rooms by stealing loyalty points. They may send you a so-called phishing email or text that asks you to click on a link to reset a password or update your information. The link redirects you to a website that may appear similar to the loyalty point or mileage program that you belong to. Once you enter your credentials, the scammers may read your loyalty point or mileage account.
You can avoid these scams by never clicking on a link in a text or email. Instead, visit the website directly.
Protect your credit card number
You are probably aware of the importance of protecting your credit cards: Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways that scammers try to get this information from you and it is easy to fall for some of their more clever ruses. One that affects many travelers is the “front desk” scam.
At some point during your hotel stay, you’ll get a call in your room: Someone claiming to be from the front desk tells you that your credit card isn’t working or that they’ve lost your information. The person then asks you to give them your card number, expiration date, and security code over the phone. You do so, not realizing that the caller is a scammer and that they can now use your card to make unauthorized purchases.
Monitor credit card transactions
It’s always a good idea to monitor your credit and debit card transactions. Be sure to check account balances daily and set requests for text or email notifications every time a charge is posted to your account. If you book travel online, pay close attention to transaction information. If you notice anything irregular about the charge, or you’re finding that additional charges are being attempted on your cards, contact your bank or credit card company and ask for a freeze on the account and an investigation.
Confirm arrangements made
There are few things more upsetting than showing up at a hotel after a long day of travel only to be told that the hotel has no record of your reservation. Unfortunately, this can happen if you book through a scammer’s website.
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