Many travelers are trying to squeeze in last-minute vacations before schools are back in full swing. Unfortunately, scammers know this and may try to trick you into divulging your credit card information by posing as hotel employees. The Better Business Bureau warns travelers to beware of a telephone phishing scam designed to steal credit card numbers.
Hotel guests across the nation are alerting local BBBs of the increased popularity of this scam. Since travel and hotel stays tend to increase during the summer, the scammers ramp up their efforts during this time.
The scam works when 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. However, 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 hotel guests targeted by this scam, the caller sounds 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.
Share this information with friends and family who may be traveling.
If you do fall for this scam, contact your credit card company immediately to have them cancel your card. For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org.
Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc., serving 41 counties in Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River area. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at 478-742-7999, www.bbb.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.