Just after 11am this morning, I received an email supposedly from Booking.com, about a hotel reservation for 7 May 2012. I was immediately suspicious, as I already had a reservation at Travelodge Inverness for that night. The email didn’t have my name on it and asked me to open an attached zip file to see details of the reservation. But if I hadn’t recognised that date, I could have possibly opened the attached file, as I sometimes get in a muddle over hotel reservation dates.
I did send an email to the address at the bottom of the email “email@example.com”, to flag up the issue. I assumed that might be a genuine email address, as it used the Booking.com domain. It must be an existing email address, as the email didn’t bounce back. I was busy doing other things, so I just deleted the dodgy email.
However, around 11.30am with no reply to the email I sent to “firstname.lastname@example.org”, I thought I should really phone Booking.com to alert them to the dodgy email. They told me that an email had just been sent around all their customer service advisors to tell people who phoned up about this dodgy email to delete it.
I did a tweet and a couple of Facebook updates to warn people about the dodgy email but I couldn’t see anything regarding this email on the Booking.com Twitter stream.
Booking.com must have picked up my tweet because they asked me to follow them so they could send me a direct message. I followed them and below is the message exchange over the following 45 minutes.
Me – I phoned your customer service dept to alert them to dodgy email & they said they knew about it & were advising callers to delete.
Me – However I think you should flag up issue.
Booking.com – Hi Karen, The email you received is not from us, we advise that you do not open the email. The issue has been raised.
Me – Yes I realised that because of zip file & fact I do have a hotel booking elsewhere for night in question shouldn’t you be alerting customers.
Booking.com – Hi Karen, The email you received is not from Booking.com, we advise that you do not open the email.
Me – Are you publicity advising everyone not to open this email? I think that you should be on Twitter, Facebook & your site.
Booking.com - Hi Karen, we’ll keep an eye on the matter and we will take appropriate action if necessary. Thanks for your feedback.
I wonder why Booking.com are keeping quiet about this? I wonder how whoever sent that dodgy email got my email address? What do Booking.com deem as “appropriate” action?
In my opinion, situations like this dodgy email pretending to be from Booking.com, are an ideal time for a company to use social media to alert followers/friends/website visitors to an issue like this, to avoid the risk of them getting a virus from a dodgy email.
It’s an awful situation when someone is pretending to be you or your company and is contacting people using your name/brand. When my Twitter account was hacked, I tweeted about it to warn followers and my husband sent out a message to apologise after an email hack resulted in pharma ads going to all his contacts.
What do you think travel brands should do in this sort of situation? Just keep quiet, as it’s everyone’s own responsibility to be careful with their emails, or should the travel brands put out some sort of warning?
Update 21 May 2011 – This morning I received another dodgy email claiming to be from Booking.com about a reservation for 1 June 2012.
Update 26 April 2012 23.00 – I did a bit of research and it appears from this Cisco security alert that the dodgy email has been doing the rounds since February 16 2012. There’s a copy of the email on the Cisco alert, which I’ve pasted below. I think it’d be really useful if Booking.com had a copy of this email on their site, so that you’d know what to look out for.
Subject: Booking confirmation ID:597781888, Thu, 15 Feb 2012 22:23:23 +0900
Booking confirmation ID:597781888, Thu, 15 Feb 2012 22:23:23 +0900
Booking.com online hotel reservations
Date: Thursday, 16-February-2012 Adobe Inn
We have received a reservation for your hotel.
Please refer to attached file now to acknowledge the reservation and see the reservation details:
Arrival: Thursday, 23-February-2012 Number of rooms: 1
If you have any questions regarding this reservation, please feel free to contact us. Telephone: English support 1 888 850 4649, Spanish support 1 866 938 1298 ; Fax 1 866 814 1719; E-mail email@example.com
Yours sincerely, Booking.com