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How to avoid an online booking scam

Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 19:13:41-04

If you are using an online travel site to book hotels, flights or other arrangements, watch out. If you are not careful, you could get scammed by fake numbers or websites.

This has been a growing problem, and here is how it is happening: The scammer creates a webpage that looks similar to a legitimate travel booking site.

The graphics, layout, phone number and other contact information may look the same. But, if you use the fake site to book, change or cancel a reservation, you could get taken.

Some of the tactics include the scammer telling you they can only book or make changes if you pay or provide information from pre-paid debit cards such as itunes or ebay cards. They are also very good at making you believe that they are actually looking at your reservation, often phishing for information without you realizing it. They may ask you to confirm the spelling of your name, your credit card number, email address or others traveling with you. You might even receive a confirmation email that appears to be from a legitimate sender.

To avoid falling victim, here are a few things that you can do: Before clicking on a site or trusting information on a search page, pay attention to the address for the website.

Legitimate sites often have a shorter web address and have corporate information listed on the search page. Watch out for phone numbers that may look similar, but one or two digits that are slightly different.

If you click on a site, pay attention to fuzzy graphics, grammatical errors, vague or nonexistent contact information, privacy policies, or terms and conditions. If you accidentally click on or contact one of these fake sites, trust your gut instinct and do not provide any personal information, payment, nor follow their instructions to call a different number.

If you believe you were scammed, contact the Federal Trade Commission or our Call 4 action office for help. Your information could help to catch these criminals and get restitution for you and others in the future.