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FTC warns travelers to be wary of online hotel scams

A new warning for travelers booking hotels online
A new warning for travelers booking hotels on... 02:21

That too-good-to-be-true hotel deal you found online? It could be fake.

The Federal Trade Commission says travelers should beware of scammers when booking hotels online. Some third-party hotel reservation websites are attempting to trick consumers, sometimes by posing as an official hotel website. Some of the sites list phone numbers that mimic official reservation lines in an attempt to mislead travelers.

As a result, some travelers may be left with no hotel room at all.

"They'll take your deposit, you won't get booked, and you'll show up thinking you have a reservation and you don't," Mark Murphy, founder of, told CBSN.

"There are others that will set up these pages, and they'll use the logo of the brand or the local hotel. You'll think you found the right hotel but you're actually booking through a separate reservation service," Murphy added. "Then when you show up you may not get what you actually paid for or you thought you paid for."

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, there are some 2.5 million misleading hotel bookings per year. And that translates to a cost of $220 million.

"It's one of the reasons why you're seeing more and more consumers, especially for higher-ticket purchases, returning to traditional travel agents who have a relationship directly with the general manager of that luxury hotel in midtown New York," Murphy said.

To avoid scams, Murphy recommended travelers go to a hotel's corporate homepage to book instead of booking through the individual hotel's site. Travelers should also stick to trusted online travel agencies, such as Expedia or Orbitz, or their trusted affiliate networks.

Travelers should also read details carefully, especially the fine print, when booking online and should keep their email confirmation easily accessible.

"I'd think about how you pay for your room, how you book your room, trusted sites. Make sure it's a secure site," Murphy said. "Or just call a travel agent."

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