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Hotels, AARP Try to Combat Travel Scams Aimed at Seniors



There are way too many stories out there of people purchasing travel packages that don’t exist or booking hotel rooms, paying upfront and then finding out there is no place at the inn when they arrive.

They are victims of a scam, and it’s especially prevalent among senior citizens who are pegged as the victim.

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Now the hotel industry and AARP are doing something about it.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and AARP this week announced a coordinated campaign aimed at educating senior travelers to avoid travel scams.

This collaboration aligns with both AHLA’s Search Smarter campaign and the AARP Fraud Watch Network, initiatives designed to help consumers avoid falling victim to scams and fraud.

“We’re thrilled to be working with AARP,” Chip Rogers, President and CEO of AHLA, said in a statement. “False and misleading websites all too often deceive consumers as they plan their travel. Together with AARP, our efforts will empower the 50+ to search smarter and avoid travel scams.”

According to AHLA research, 23 percent of consumers report being misled by third-party traveler resellers on the phone or online, which amounted to $5.7 billion in fraudulent and misleading hotel booking transactions in 2018 alone.

“Through the AARP Fraud Watch Network, we work to educate consumers about the scams and fraud that claim billions of dollars each year,” said Kathy Stokes, Director of Fraud Prevention Programs for AARP. “We are excited to join AHLA in our shared mission to protect consumers from fraud and look forward to an ongoing collaboration.”

Both AHLA’s Search Smarter campaign and the AARP Fraud Watch Network offer consumers tips to protect them from bad actor websites. These tips include the following:

Book on the official website of a hotel or use a reputable third-party resource.

Carefully check a travel website’s URL. Scam sites may use “domain spoofing” tricks such as an extra letter in the address.

Call the hotel to confirm your reservation after booking on a third-party website. If they don’t have a record of your booking, that may signal a problem.

Be leery of pressure tactics (e.g., “Only 2 rooms left. Book now!”). Third-party sites do not have access to a hotel’s inventory.

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