Even the most alert person can sometimes be scammed on the internet. Although it’s easy to mock those supposed Nigerian princes wanting to share their wealth, one does tend to be a bit more believing when the email or phone messages contains real information that only a legitimate sender ought to have. One such scam appears to be taking advantage of the Online Travel Agency Booking.com.
According to the Spanish blog InfoViajera – and dozens of reader comments – Booking.com appears to have been hacked. After booking a hotel or apartment through the Online Travel Agency, the guest is being approached – often via Whatsapp message – informing them that their payment has been declined. As a result, the “property” is asking them to make payment outside of Booking.com.
Many readers would undoubtedly notice the red flag and delete the message immediately, except that it typically contains:
- The full name of the guest
- Their phone number
- The property being reserved
- The exact dates of the reservation
- The exact amount of the reservation
And if you are accustomed to having online credit card payments declined from time to time – especially in foreign countries off the beaten track – then you can easily fall into the trap.
Luckily, no InfoViajera readers appear to have fallen into the trap. One message mentioned a problem with “Mactercard” payment systems, an obvious scam, albeit one that you could easily miss.
What is Booking.com Doing About It?
When contacted by InfoViajera readers, Booking.com claims that all is fine. Disturbingly, however, the prevalence of this scam suggests that:
- Booking.com has been hacked – allowing somebody access to Booking.com reservation information
- Dozens of smaller Booking.com properties have employees operating (or falling for) a phishing scam
I can’t think of any other access point for somebody to obtain every relevant detail of your accomodation reservation…
If you are asked to make payment outside of the booking platform, it is surely a scam. Even so, some scams look more realistic than others…
Have you received a similar message after making a reservation? Let us know in the comments section…