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Better Business Bureau ®
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In Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana
Summer Warnings: Hotel Guest Scam Calls and Craigslist Scam Tips
July 11, 2011

HOTEL GUEST SCAM CALLS: Know about this one if you are Traveling, Staying in Hotels/Motels along the Way

Better Business Bureau is alerting tourists and hotel/motel staffers of a scam that has surfaced this summer plaguing hotels and their guests. Scammers are obtaining credit card information from hotel guests over the phone.

How it Works

Fake calls are typically made in the middle of the night. The fake caller indicates they are a hotel employee, and that the hotel computer system has crashed. (NOT) In order to complete the hotel audit, they must have your credit card number. (NO WAY)

These callers are very convincing, and many hotel guests are falling for this scam. If you own or work at a hotel or motel, please alert your guests of this scam.

If you are a guest, remember not to provide credit card information over the phone during your stay to anybody except face-to-face with the front desk clerk, if necessary. If there is ever a problem with billing, staff will handle it at the front desk, not by phone.

CRAIGSLIST SCAMS KEEP COMING

BBB has been getting many reports of various Craigslist scams operating in various parts of the country/region this summer. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) and BBB state that in order to protect themselves, consumers should follow these basic guidelines:

• Check a seller's reputation. Check feedback ratings and reports from the Better Business Bureau, as well as your state Attorney General’s Office. Never give out personal or financial information unless you know the seller is legitimate.

• Contact the seller in person. Verify the seller's physical location and phone number. Deal locally with sellers you can meet in person. Always meet in a public place and bring someone with you for safety. Limit the amount of personal information you give to a seller. Only reveal what is absolutely necessary.

• Be wary of requests for wire transfers. Requests for wire transfers often signal fraud. Instead of wiring money, pay with a credit card, if possible. When you pay by credit card, your transaction is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act—a federal law that gives you the right to dispute unauthorized charges.

• Keep printed records. Print purchase confirmations and all other documents related to your transaction.

• Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you suspect fraud, report it to Craigslist’s Abuse Center ASAP, your local BBB office, as well as your state Attorney General's Office. If you feel that personal sensitive info is at the risk of being compromised, or has been compromised, file a police report, as well, to start a paper trail. Check financial statements regularly for erroneous charges.