How to avoid hotel scams when you travel this summer

Call 12 For Action has a warning about how to avoid hotel scams.

PHOENIX - It doesn't matter whether you're flying or driving on a summer trip -- once you get to your vacation destination, you have to stay somewhere.

That's when scammers are hoping to steal your money.

In fact, the American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that 15 million people were ripped off by imposter websites in 2014. Those are websites that look like official hotel websites, but are not.

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"So be very careful when booking your hotel, to make sure it's the actual, official website of the hotel," said financial advisor Jim Dew. "Don't just click on a link you get or go from social media. Really do some research."

Dew said the imposter websites look a lot like the real ones.

Here's how you can tell the difference:

1. Be careful about clicking on links from social media.

2. Use a web search like Google and go directly to the hotel's website or a trusted third-party site, like Travelocity.

3. Then when you go to pay, make sure the URL reads HTTPS.

4. Be careful about using a cell phone to book that room on an unfamiliar website.

"The screen is so small, it can be hard to tell a fake from a legitimate site," Dew said. "So do that on a desktop."

It may take a few extra minutes, but in the end, it'll be worth it for your vacation and your money.