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News Stories From HAA

Online Booking Chargeback Scam Alert

Members: General News: 30/1/2012

A member has passed on an alert regarding an attempted scam via an online booking. The message reads:

"We were just the victim of a scam that I thought I would warn you about.

A customer made an online $2000 booking. Then he emails and calls in tears that his wife has been in a car accident, is near death and he has to cancel (very convincing!).

He was also in the accident and lost his wallet and c/c during all of the confusion. Could we please refund the money into his bank account asap? (Luckily I didn't do it straight away, even though I thought he was for real, he was a very good actor).

Then 2 days later we get a chargeback dispute from the bank for the c/c payment - he used some stolen numbers! The bank refunded the money out of our account into the innocent persons account and we only missed out on the booking. We could have also refunded him the money and been $2000 out of pocket.

I don't know if this has happened to you, happy for you to warn others about our experience"


If a stolen credit card, or credit card numbers obtained fraudulently are used as in the case of this online booking scam, the bank will automatically reverse the amount out of your bank account without recourse.

Members who subscribe to an online booking program should be aware of this possibility and take steps to check the veracity of a claim for a return of payment. If a refund is requested, this should not be made until you are satisfied that the payment has been cleared by the bank, even though the amount appears in your bank account.

If it is an International transaction, the period for the bank to authenticate a payment made by any method (credit card, cheque etc) is around 28 days and you should not give a refund before this time has elapsed.  Consult the merchant department of your bank before making a refund, or if you have any concerns.
Payments made direct to you via the telephone

In the event of a bank customer requesting a chargeback on a disputed payment made to your business, the bank will contact you to provide details of the transaction. If the bank is satisfied that the transaction is genuine it should take no further action - but this is not so in all cases depending on the circumstances.  

Telephone (MOTO) transactions in particular are difficult for you to prove as you do not have a validating signature. It is important that you obtain the signature of the guest on the MOTO credit card transaction slip upon their arrival. This should avoid any dispute that may occur after their stay.


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