Fraudulent bookings are a big problem for travelers today. In a recent Phocuswire story about the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)'s findings on fraudulent bookings, Mitra Sorrells writes: "The American Hotel & Lodging Association says consumers paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent and misleading hotel booking transactions with third-party travel companies in 2017." It's a huge hassle to deal with a fraudulent booking. You're not just in danger of being embarrassed about getting duped. You can lose money, either because of inflated resale prices or because of extraneous fees. You can also lose your reservation itself. In some cases, you won't even know you don't have a room until you walk up to the front desk to check in and find out that you're nowhere in the system. Yikes! Other numbers come up throughout the story: - 23% of consumers were misled by travel resellers on the phone or online- 46% were charged extraneous credit card fees- 34% lost their original reservation and had to pay for a second room- 44% of room requests were not relayed to the hotel Booking a hotel room in all that uncertainty can stress you out – and travel shouldn't get any more stressful than it already can be. Luckily, Vagabond Inn has 3 great guidelines for booking travel online: First, if in doubt, book directly with your hotel. It cuts down on the additional costs on third-party sites, it puts you in direct contact with the hotel, and it eliminates all possibility of fraud. Second, slow down and take your time. A third-party reseller isn't necessarily going to have the cheapest rooms. Before leaping to snag a deal, check to see what else is out there. Third, don't gamble with your reservations. If a reseller's price looks too good to be true, it might be. It's better to pay more for a real room than get a deal on a fake one. That's it – book directly, take it slow, and mind the risks. Happy booking!