As we near the holiday season, the Better Business Bureau offers advice for Idahoans booking holiday travel online. BBB's Emily Valla says to be safe, double check the URL of any travel booking website you are visiting.
"Make sure you are on the legitimate site and spelling is correct. Before entering any payment information, look for the “S” in the web address. It should be “Https,” indicating it’s more secure," Valla said.
Valla also recommends contacting the hotel or airline directly to confirm your reservation, as many sites are third parties.
"You can make sure the third party site properly booked your accommodations, and also alert the company about any special needs or specific requests you may have," Valla explained.
Always read the fine print. Make sure you understand any extra fees or cancellation policies before booking.
Staying in private residences rather than hotels is also becoming more popular. Valla says be sure to talk with the owner before booking.
"If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email. Many scammers don’t live locally, so get the owner on the phone and ask detailed questions about the property and local attractions. An owner with vague answers to your questions is a clear red flag," Valla said.
"Check public records. Investigate on Google or another search engine. Look up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the property matches the one advertised. Also, verify distances to beaches, attractions and airports while on the site," Valla added.
When you make it to your vacation, still use caution.
"Be careful on WiFi. Avoid using public WiFi, including hotel internet access, for online banking or other financial account management. With just a click of a button, fraudsters can easily create fake WiFi hubs, then gain access to personal information and passwords," Valla explained.
"Go easy on the selfies. Avoid blasting on social media that everyone in the house is away. This makes it all too easy for burglars to locate an empty house available for them to rob. Save the Facebook album for after the trip is over," Valla continued.
For more tips and advice, visit www.bbb.org.