Courtesy of The St. Regis New York

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, fraudulent websites con 2.5 million North Americans out of $220 million every year. The worst offenders, it says, like and, appear in the sponsored section of Google searches and use deceptive URLs and pirated pictures to trick consumers into thinking they’re booking with an actual hotel. The result: unfulfilled requests, fabricated amenities, even bogus reservations. Now that these nefarious sites number in the thousands, Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has called for a Federal Trade Commission investigation.

The final word: If a rate seems too good to be true, it probably is. Book directly with the hotel or through trusted online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline.

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