SCAM ALERT: Misleading hotel booking sites target summer travelers

If you are planning a summer vacation, watch your step before booking online.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, misleading websites are tricking millions of consumers into thinking they are booking directly with a hotel.

"We're seeing an increasing case of scams where these websites are purporting to be a hotel booking site and they use a variety of marketing tactics to do that," said Maryam Cope with the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The rogue sites use official logos, post enticing hotel pictures and even have call centers that make it seem like you are calling the hotel directly.

Consumers are lured in by the third party service and sometimes they are required to pay non-refundable fees.

The Better Business Bureau has issued a consumer warning about the misleading sites, which are tacking on additional fees or even charging for rooms that do not exist.

Senator Charles Grassley is asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into the matter.

HERE ARE FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

1. Don't believe what you see. Ask questions!

2. Beware of fake contact information. Those call centers may not be to the hotel's reservation desk as the scammers suggest.

3. Double check the URLs. Scammers pick URLs that look like those of legitimate sites.

4. Look for a secure connection. Make sure the web address starts with HTTPS and has a lock icon.

5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you have any questions, call the hotel directly before you book.

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