Booking a hotel room online for a vacation can be an easy and cost-effective way to start a vacation. It can also be an easy way to be scammed. It has been estimated that as many as 2.5 million annual hotel bookings end up being scams. The scam starts when you go online to search for a good deal on a hotel room in a popular vacation location. Often people start their search using a search engine, such as Google and type in words like “discount hotel in Orlando.” Merely because a website comes up high in a Google search does not mean that it is legitimate. It only means that the scammer knows how to manipulate the algorithms used by Google to get a good position in a search. Sometimes the scam website uses the logos of well-known hotel chains although they are not connected to the hotel chain. When you make a reservation with these scam websites, you run the risk of one of two problems. The first is that you will end up paying more than you would have at a legitimate website because of hidden charges or second and worst, you many not get anything other than your credit card number stolen and used to make you a victim of identity theft.
So how do you recognize a scam travel website?
Probably the best thing to do is to stick with well-established discount travel sites such as Kayak, Expedia, Trivago or Orbitz. You also may get a good deal by going directly to the website of the hotel chain in which you are interested. You should also not use your debit card for a reservation. Using a credit card will make it easier for you to dispute and have removed any fraudulent charges. Finally, make sure whenever you transmit personal information such as a credit card online that the URL is preceded by “https” rather than just “http.” The “s” means that your data is being protected by encryption while being transmitted.