Welch, Bilirakis, Frankel Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Stop Online Booking Scams
Members of Congress led by Rep. Peter Welch (VT-AL), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), and Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21) today introduced bipartisan legislation to protect consumers from online booking scams.
"Vermont has world-class resort destinations and hotels that are key contributors to our economic growth. Skiers, hikers, hunters and fly fishermen should not have to worry about getting ripped off when staying at our great hotels," said Rep. Peter Welch, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation.
"Florida is a top tourism destination, and families booking a dream vacation here shouldn't worry that an online scam will turn it into a nightmare. Our bill cracks down on booking fraud, so folks aren't ripped off by bad actors," said Congresswoman Frankel.
"This issue was first brought to my attention by a local hotel franchise owner in Dunedin. She showed me frustrated letters from customers who had unknowingly booked a room at her hotel through a fraudulent third party. Upon arrival, the customers were frustrated to learn that the hotel was fully booked and could not accommodate their travel request. Our bipartisan legislation will help to protect the consumer and small business owners from bad actors by offering greater transparency," said Congressman Bilirakis.
Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
"Montana's booming tourism industry is a critical part of our economy and provides high paying jobs for our communities," said Daines. "It's important that visitors and travelers to our state are not scammed and must have the assurances that the hotel room they booked will be there when they arrive. That's why I introduced my bipartisan bill, to help stop online booking scams to protect Montana jobs, tourism economy and the folks who visit our great state."
"Travel reservations made on fraudulent websites can be costly and stressful for travelers," said Klobuchar. "As more and more people turn to online booking websites to plan their travel, our legislation will help to crack down on bad actors and protect consumers."
The Stop Online Booking Scams Act of 2019 makes it unlawful for a third-party online hotel reservation seller who is not affiliated with the hotel to advertise promote or sell a reservation if they state or imply that they are the actual owner or operator of the hotel. It makes a failure to comply an unfair or deceptive act under the Federal Trade Commission Act. Further, it gives state Attorneys General the authority to bring a civil action against companies who violate this provision.