From: The Honorable Lois Frankel
Sent By: Grant.Dubler@mail.house.gov
Date: 2/2/2016

Help Stop Online Hotel Booking Fraud

Become an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Stop Online Booking Scams Act to help crack down on fraudulent hotel booking websites and call centers.

Dear Colleague:

Thousands of customers are misled every year into making hotel reservations through fraudulent websites and call centers that give the appearance of being connected to a hotel, but actually have no legal relation to them.

For consumers, the fraud takes several different forms. They could be charged additional hidden fees when they arrive, lose expected loyalty points, or worse, they could learn that their reservation was never actually made. In the last year alone, close to 15 million reservations were made on such deceptive sites, resulting in hotel guests finding themselves out hundreds of dollars for either a worthless reservation or one that delivered much less than promised. It is estimated that these scams cost U.S. travelers upwards of $1.3 billion per year.

We are introducing the Stop Online Booking Scams Act to help crack down on call center and online hotel scams.  First, this bill will would require all third-party hotel booking websites to disclose, clearly and conspicuously, that they are not affiliated with the hotel for which the traveler is ultimately making the reservation. This new requirement will help consumers tell the difference between name brand hotel websites and fraudulent ones masquerading as name brand sites.

Second, it would give state Attorneys General the ability to go after perpetrators in federal court with the same remedies available to the FTC. Today, only federal authorities can fully penalize individuals who commit online hotel booking fraud. If the offense is small, federal authorities may forgo prosecution to go after more expansive crimes.  Giving state Attorneys General the ability to pursue damages and restitution for victims will leverage the power of all fifty states to hold fraudsters of all levels accountable and deter criminals.

It also includes two provisions that will help illuminate the true extent of these crimes. It requires the FTC to produce a report on the impact of these fraudulent sites on consumers and it encourages the FTC to simplify their online complaint procedure for reporting hotel booking scams.

We invite you to join us as a co-sponsor of this important legislation. For more information or to co-sponsor, please contact Grant Dubler with Congresswoman Frankel’s office at Grant.Dubler@mail.house.gov or 5-9890.

Sincerely,

Lois Frankel                                Ileana Ros-Lehtinen                            Bill Shuster
Member of Congress                   Member of Congress                           Member of Congress