Online Booking Scams
New research shows the growing problem of rogue third party booking websites that trick consumers into thinking they are booking directly with the hotel. Some 15 million bookings a year are scams, translating to more than $1.3 billion in money going to bad bookings.
What You Can Do?
- BOOK DIRECT – The safest way to ensure you get what you want and need is to book directly with the hotel’s booking site.
- CHECK BEFORE YOU CLICK – Take an extra minute to make sure you’re on the real hotel’s booking site.
- USE ONLY TRUSTED SITES – Although the hotel name may be part of the URL, double check the website address to ensure it’s not a third-party vendor stealing a hotel’s identity.
- CALL THE HOTEL DIRECTLY AND ASK QUESTIONS – Ensure you protect your information, your reservation, your points and your credit card information. • What is the cancellation/trip change policy? • Is the site, in any way, affiliated with the hotel? • Is it a secure payment site? The URL should have a small lock and should start with https:// as opposed to just http://
You can help stop these rogue sites. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s attorney general to file a complaint to make them aware. Follow these steps to file your complaint with the FTC:
- Go to https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
- Under the “Select a Category Below” on the left-hand column, click on “other”
- On the right-hand side, click on “Click here for more options (page 1 of 2)”
- Click “Travel, Vacations or Timeshares”
- Click on “I initiated contact”
- Click this complaint is concerning “Travel or vacation related services or packages”
- Fill out Complaint Detail Information
- Fill out Company Detail Information
- Fill out Consumer Information
- Type out your complaint explaining how you were scammed
- Review your information and SUBMIT
Travel Resources for California
California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI)
When you travel, make a California bed & breakfast or boutique inn your choice in lodging. CABBI is the state’s only association of B&B’s and inns, representing members from the Redwood Coast to San Diego. CABBI provides travelers with an extensive choice of accommodations including country cottages, historic Victorian mansions, boutique hotels and beachfront retreats. Find the perfect destination for your next California vacation at www.cabbi.com.
California Welcome Centers
California Welcome Centers are California’s Official State Visitor Centers offering valuable information and services for today’s traveler. The CWCs are here as your personal travel concierge to assist you in all aspects of your California trip. See what California has to offer by exploring this virtual tour. And while you are here, come stop by any one of the centers – hope to see you soon! Click here for a list of California Welcome Centers.
Get the inside scoop on beaches, theme parks, wine country, fantastic outdoor adventures, and more! Find out about hundreds of places to go, from city scenes to beautiful drives. Consumers can get free copy of the California State Visitors Guide at VisitCalifornia.com. Residents of the United States and Canada can also receive travel planning information by calling 877-225-4367.
Hotel Complaint Resources:
- How to Complain About Your Hotel Stay (WikiHow)
- The Better Business Bureau – (916) 443-6843 or www.bbb.org
- Department of Consumers Affairs – (800) 952-5210 or www.dca.ca.gov
- California Department of Public Health – Contacts Numbers by County