Fraudulent online booking websites give the appearance of being connected to a hotel, but actually have no relationship with them; Transactions on these sites can result in additional hidden fees, loss of expected loyalty points, or even confirmation of reservations that were never made
The Stop Online Booking Scams Act would protect consumers from illegitimate third party websites that trick consumers into thinking they are making reservations directly with hotels
WASHINGTON, DC– U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced legislation to protect consumers from online booking scams. Fraudulent online booking websites give the appearance of being connected to a hotel, but actually have no relationship with them. Transactions on these sites can result in additional hidden fees, loss of expected loyalty points, or even confirmation of reservations that were never made. The Stop Online Booking Scams Act would protect consumers from illegitimate third party websites that trick consumers into thinking they are making reservations directly with hotels. Following reports of deceptive online companies imitating websites of actual hotels or airlines to attract bookings, Klobuchar also recently sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation urging an investigation and for the agencies to use of tools available to help stop these practices.
“Tourism is a powerful engine for job creation in Minnesota and across the country. Many consumers choose to book hotel stays online, and they deserve not to be duped as they plan their travel,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will help protect consumers from fraudulent websites, making for better deals and better trips.”
The Stop Online Booking Scams Act would:
- Require third party online hotel reservation sellers that are not affiliated with the hotel to clearly and conspicuously disclose to consumers that they are not affiliated with the hotel.
- Make a failure to comply with the third party disclosure requirements an unfair or deceptive act under the Federal Trade Commission Act.
- Give state Attorneys General the authority to bring a civil action against companies who violate this provision.
In addition to Klobuchar, this legislation was introduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).
As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, Klobuchar has long supported efforts to increase tourism to the U.S. as a way to drive economic growth. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers from ticket bots, unauthorized charges on their phone bills, and deceptive practices by fraudulent online travel booking websites. She cosponsored the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, which recently passed the Commerce Committee. The legislation would prohibit the use of ticket bots and other online measures in order to deliberately circumvent security protocols that limit or restrict online ticket purchases. At a Commerce Committee hearing in 2014, Klobuchar called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to do more to protect consumers from cramming as consumers increasingly go wireless and as payment technology evolves. Since then, the FCC, FTC, and other federal agencies have continued to take action against cramming.