If you are planning to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans, beware of pop-up ads for hotels during this holiday. Consumers have reported booking hotel rooms only to find that the reservation was never made.
According to Ronald Dupuy, Director of Standards and Data Quality, at the BBB serving Southeastern Louisiana, MardiGrasRooms.com … proposed to book hotel rooms at several prominent area hotels. “As our investigation discovered, these hotels had no connection to this site, and the business was not physically located at the address indicated on their website.” Be on the lookout for this and other copy-cat, fake hotel websites.
To protect yourself from this type of scam, consider the following tips:
- Don’t believe what you see: The site may have the logo or design of a legitimate hotel or booking site, but that can be easily copied from the real website.
- Look out for fake contact info: Some consumers report calling the 1-800 number posted on a scam hotel booking site to confirm its legitimacy. Scammers simply impersonated the front desk of the hotel.
- Double check the URLs. Scammers pick URLs that look very similar to those of legitimate sites. Always be sure to double check the URL before making a purchase. Be wary of sites that have the brand name as a subdomain of another URL (i.e. brandname.scamwebsite.com), part of a longer URL (i.e. companynamebooking.com) or use an unconventional top level domain (brandwebsite.net or brandwebsite.co).
- Look for a secure connection. Make sure your personal information is being transmitted securely by ensuring the web address starts with “HTTPS” and has a lock icon.
- Watch for too good to be true deals. Be sure to comparison shop and be suspicious of a site that has prices significantly lower than those listed elsewhere.
Sources: BBB serving Southeast Louisiana and BBB North Alabama
For more information on this and other hotel scams, go to Third-party Hotel scams for Mardi Gras Visitors and American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA): Protecting the Consumer. To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.