BBB Warns of Phone Scam Aimed at Hotel Guests

December 21, 2011

Scammers know that many people travel to see family and friends during the holidays, which is why the BBB warns holiday travelers to beware of a telephone phishing scam designed to steal their credit card numbers.

BBBs around the nation are hearing from travelers who receive such calls.

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 are plausible scenarios. The crooks count on catching you while you are asleep so that you are groggy and not thinking clearly when answering the phone. To compensate for the inconvenience, the scammer might even offer room discount.

Hotels generally handle billing questions at the front desk, not over the phone. And they certainly won’t call in the middle of the night.

Your BBB advises:

  • 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 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.