BBB Warns of Phone Scam Aimed at Hotel Guests

December 21, 2011

December 20, 2011

BBB Warns of Phone Scam Aimed at Hotel Guests

Many people will be traveling to see family and friends in the next few weeks. Scammers know this too, and may try to trick you into divulging your credit card information by posing as hotel employees. The BBB is warning holiday travelers to beware of a telephone phishing scam designed to steal credit card numbers.

A hotel guest in the Memphis area alerted the BBB of the Mid-South to the scam. However, BBBs around the nation have received similar calls. Since travel and hotel stays tend to increase over the holidays, the scammers may be ramping up their efforts during the holiday season.

How the Scam Works

A hotel guest receives a phone call in the wee hours of the morning. The caller claims to be a hotel employee who needs to get your credit card number because:
1. The hotel encountered a problem processing your credit card and they need to verify your number.
2. The hotel's computer system has crashed and they need to get your credit card information again.
3. The hotel's system has crashed and your credit card information is needed for an audit to be conducted shortly.

All plausible scenarios. The crooks are counting on catching you while you are sleeping, so you aren't thinking clearly. And they might even offer you a discount on the room for the inconvenience.

The callers are very convincing. According to one hotel guest, the caller sounded very professional. However, hotels generally handle any questions about billing at the front desk, not over the phone. And they certainly wouldn't be calling you in the middle of the night.

BBB Tips to Protect Yourself from Being Victimized

* Never give your credit card or banking information over the phone to someone you don't know.
* If you're staying at a hotel and get a call from someone claiming to be a hotel employee, hang up the phone and call the front desk yourself. Better yet, go down to the front desk. Chances are the call didn't come from the hotel.
* Remind friends and family not to provide credit card information over the phone during a hotel stay.
* Please share this information with friends and family who may be traveling this holiday season.