Once again turning to a favorite resource, we adapt the latest entry by Consume Education Specialist Amy Hebert from the FTC’s On Guard On Line website.
The focus this week is on safe travel arrangements. Whether you travel a lot or just a little, you’ve probably gone online to book a hotel stay. Sometimes you might find a travel comparison site gets you the best deal. Other times, you might book directly at a hotel’s website — maybe to earn points for the company’s reward program, or because you have some special requests for your stay.
For those times you’re looking to book directly with a hotel, make sure that’s what you’re doing. The FTC has heard from people who searched online and thought they were booking on a hotel website, only to find they’d unknowingly been doing business with someone else.
The confusion resulted in problems like:
- arriving and finding no reservation
- having trouble canceling or modifying a reservation, or disputing charges through the hotel
- finding reserved rooms didn’t reflect special requests like disability access
- being charged undisclosed fees
- paying a higher rate than what’s advertised by the hotel
- getting credit card charges from the third party, not the hotel
- not earning points with their hotel reward program
It can be hard to tell that you’re not on the hotel’s site. You might see a hotel’s name in the URL, or call the number shown next to the hotel’s address and not realize it’s the reservation company — not the hotel — you’re talking to.
Your best bet to avoid surprises — look closely at your search results. If you know you want to deal directly with a hotel, take the time to look for signs you might be on a third-party site, like another company’s logo. It’s also a good idea to find the hotel phone number yourself, rather than rely on what’s listed on the site.
Keep checking for more information for best practices in identity theft protection and safety on line at www.hvshred.com