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My post may be lengthy but i encourage everyone to read through as I will be explaining potentially why you are getting fake booking and how to eliminate them. I own and manage a number of properties all in one city. They all are in different class, price and location. I live in the other continent and proactively manage my properties.
For the past few years i've worked as IT analyst and have managed a number of projects including Fraud detection and Prevention systems. Besides considering booking.com as a channel for leads and sales for my properties I also treat it like a SYSTEM, a piece of technology per se.
I too deal with constant fake bookings and no shows but I made a bit of progress in eliminating bookings that are not legit by a large percentage.
Here are my observations and causes of fake bookings: Types:
1) Unhealthy competition. Owner/s of properties hire people that sit and book apartments that are either in the same area or somehow create competition to their properties. These bookings most of the time are for weekends or if your weekends are booked the reservations are for days leading towards the weekend (Wed-Fri)
2) Credit Card Fraud(carding) - Advanced. Individuals purchase stolen credit card information online and need a way to check the card. By booking your apartment(applies only to those that ask for credit card info) the individuals wait until you preauthorize the card and act upon it if its not working or the information they purchased is wrong.
3) Credit Card Fraud(carding) - Rookie. A person books your property with hope the booking process will ask for credit card information. The individuals are new and do not know that the property with no credit card required has a sign next to it ("no credit card required"). Credit card fraud is global and very often individuals buying/selling credit cards speak little or no english
Keep in mind that only in case of 2) will a person most likely have a valid email address and valid phone number to compact through. Please do not be surprised, there are online fraud services that offer phone services such as "Phone-in","Phone-out" and Instant Messaging service such as Viber - in other words these guys act like they are the owners of the credit card info.
Enough about technical stuff, let me show you show real world case scenarios i've been through over the last 2-3 weeks but before I go into that it is important I explain basic checks I conduct for every booking.
1. Check name vs location. For example a visitor from Poland will most likely never have an Indian or African name. I am well aware of most european countries, nationalities residing within those countries and possible names the nationals may carry. Not everyone will know this but this an item that adds a fraud point to my checklist.
2. Check address on google maps. Some bookings have bogus addresses, most of them are type 1) explained above
3. Add phone to Viber/What's app and send a confirmation message. A valid booking will ALWAYS return with a message and confirmation of arrival etc. This step 90% distinguishes fake from legit, the remaining 10% belong to type 2) fake bookings.
4. Preauthorize $1 on properties that need credit card(I use STRIPE)
Now to the scenario.
Booking 1(fake booking, belongs to type 2 above). Someone books one of the properties(credit card required) for 14 days(red flag!). I conduct all my basic checks but there are 2 red flags: I have never had a visitor from India and the booking is for more than 7 days. All checks are passed except check #4. I right away click on "Mark credit card as invalid" which gives the client 24 to come back with new credit. As you probably guesses, that never happened to I got rid of the fake booking in 24h
Booking 2(fake booking, belongs to either type 1) or 2))
Someone books one of the properties(no credit card needed) for a weekend. Basic checks conducted. Pre-auth is NOT applicable and WhatsApp message has been sitting unanswered for 48h. I then send a note to client over Extranet that the booking is canceled due to no communication/confirmation. Here is a messy part: you can not cancel the booking on your own, you can only request cancelation of booking and a client needs to approve your request in order for booking to be canceled. Since this won't happen I simply do +1 on availability for those days opening up the booking days. IMPORTANT: once you received a booking for those dates you have 2 bookings: 1 fake and 1 legit. You will report NO SHOW shortly after midnight for fake booking but you quickly need to set available rooms back to 0 since cancelation of NO SHOW will result in +1 to your room's availability. I did have legit double bookings because i took longer then needed to set availability to 0 and had to refuse to one client.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND that these are my observations and processes that help me with fake bookings. It may not necessarily work or apply to you but I hope you can somehow benefit from my findings.
You are probably thinking that this is too much work but believe me that once you get the hang of it this is done systematically and will not take much of an effort to do. It get's a bit complicated with multiple rooms or if you have a lot of properties but so far booking.com failed to protect me and you from these fake bookings.
I've noticed that booking.com has rolled out a policy option to have phone number verified, accept bookings from clients with at least 1 booking etc but this hasn't helped me much.
I wish we as the partners and consumer of booking.com services had an ability to collectively influence the speed of enhancements to booking processes to eliminate fake bookings.