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I have made a booking at a hotel in an East Asian country for the new years period.

The booking was done through a 3rd party website. The payment will be fulfilled on the first day of arrival through the 3rd party website.

Last week I got a mail that seems to be from the hotel (mentioning my full name and everything) that I have the possibility to book a table for new years eve at their restaurant, to which I replied positively.

They replied though that in order to book a table at the restaurant, they require me to send them a credit card authorization form filled with my bank and other personal info (credit card number, a copy of passport etc). I am a bit reluctant to send all these personal info through email. It also seems weird to me that I should print a PDF, write my personal info, scan my passport etc and then send it via insecure email, all for a simple restaurant reservation.

So my question is, is this normal practice and I'm just paranoid?

Just to mention that the hotel is from a really big international chain and not some small family resort or anything.

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    Did you contact the hotel directly yourself to confirm this? It's unusual, and suspicious, but is not an impossible scenario. Maybe you can do it over the phone? – Johns-305 Dec 12 '18 at 19:41
  • You're actually probably lucky that they let you book a room on New Year's Eve without prepayment and other conditions. – jcaron Dec 12 '18 at 23:29
  • You can also fax them the documents. – user71659 Dec 13 '18 at 2:21
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Something doesn't feel quite right, although it may be okay.

  1. New Years eve is a prime spot for restaurants so it tends to be expensive and the hotels would like to get paid for every seat (and then some). They don't care if the guests actually show up, but they want to get paid for food, band, staff, decoration, etc.
  2. They really don't want any non-revenue seats on these nights so they want some sort of guarantee for the reservation
  3. The normal way to do this would be to ask for a non-refundable deposit. If you show up, great! If you don't, the hotel gets to keep your deposit (seems fair)
  4. Asking for your credit card number is only ok, if it is very clear of what they would do with it. It is ok to secure a deposit or your incidentals. The key here is to find out what they would do if you can't show up the dinner. How would they would use your credit card ?
  5. Asking for a copy of your passport for a dinner reservation is a big "heck no" for me. While it's sometimes okay (or required) for a hotel/lodging/airbnb to do that, it's a big no-no for a restaurant. If they insist, eat elsewhere
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    I agree with point 5. I have a reservation for dinner on New Years Eve, at a hotel in central London. They did want pre-payment, through a secure web site. They have not asked for a copy of my passport. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 13 '18 at 2:36
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In some countries, it is common for restaurants to ask for a guarantee for some reservations, especially for larger tables or specific events.

It is actually very common for New Year's Eve, as on that evening: * they have only one seating instead of 2 or more, * there is usually a fixed menu with more expensive food that usual * they may have to pay staff more than usual (and/or have more staff) * the cost per person is usually much higher * tables are often larger than usual

So the risk for them in case of a no-show is much higher than usual. And as it's a festive evening and everybody has their own idea of what the best place is for that evening, there would also be a higher rate of no-shows than usual without this. They don't do it for fun, there's a reason behind it.

If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of the e-mail, call them to confirm (using the published number, not the one in the e-mail, of course).

The way they do is often a bit low-tech, but it's not unusual. I've had the cases in Sydney (yes, you want to pay to get a table in front of Harbour Bridge on New Year's Eve), Singapore, and probably other places I don't remember. Probably even had something similar in the US as well, IIRC.

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    I think it's highly unusual to ask for a passport copy to get a reservation, new years or not. – Hilmar Dec 13 '18 at 21:45
  • @Hilmar it's just to make sure you don't give a random credit card number. It's really archaic. Back a few years ago, some retailers asked for ID, a scan of your credit card and other similar measures. It's just to protect them against fraud. Nowadays you see a lot less of this online with the advent of 3D Secure and other anti-fraud technologies, but once you're back to the archaic "please fill in your card details on this form and scan it"... I would be worried if it was a place I didn't trust, but a restaurant in a international hotel, I've done it quite a few times... – jcaron Dec 13 '18 at 23:08
  • Your mileage may vary. I was never ever asked for a passport copy for a restaurant reservation, even if it was a large crowd with a sizable bill.I would not provide it and eat someplace else. – Hilmar Dec 15 '18 at 17:39

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