Hotel guests: Avoid the front desk scam by simply hanging up the phone

posted by Mike Burke on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in SHAZAM Blog

If you've got upcoming travel plans involving a hotel stay, whether for business or pleasure, beware of the hotel front desk scam. You read that right, but it's not the actual hotel asking for your credit card information, it's a fraudster's con to steal your money!

The scenario
You’re back on the road seeing clients, attending conferences, and traveling more since the pandemic has subsided. Often, you arrive at the hotel, tired and fatigued from a busy day, and use your credit card to check in at the front desk. The attendant typically asks if you’d like to keep the card on file used to reserve the room to pay for the room charge or any incidentals incurred during your stay. You get your room key and off you go for a well-deserved good night’s sleep knowing tomorrow a long day awaits.

The scam
You arrive at your room, get settled in and start to relax. The phone rings and the caller, claiming to be the front desk, advises you that for some reason the card you gave them at check-in was not accepted.
The excuse given is a glitch in their computer system or something along those lines. The caller is very apologetic and to prevent upsetting you any further advises you don’t have to return to the front desk to get this squared away, instead you can just give the card information over the phone. Problem solved, right? Wrong, your problems have just begun as they go on a spending spree with your credit card.

The headache 
The caller is NOT the front desk attendant, the caller is a fraudster who calls hotels and asks to be transferred to random room numbers. If the room occupant answers, the fraudster deploys the scam mentioned above hoping you’ll fall prey.

The aspirin
1)    NEVER give your card information over the phone.
2)    If you receive this type of call, hang up. Contact the front desk yourself to verify there is an actual problem with your card. If so, proceed to the front desk to take care of it. Typically, the hotel will know if there is a problem with your card before you even finish checking in.

Anti-scam rule
Always remember the anti-scam rule, “Don't call me, I'll call you”. This applies to bogus calls from fraudsters offering tech support to fix a non-existent problem with your computer or update your anti-virus software, to travel scams or the age-old grandparent scam.
Travel safe this summer and when in doubt, simply hang up the phone!

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