October 09, 2018

5 Surprising Hotel Scams Everyone Should Know About

The hospitality sector is a popular target for information thieves because of all the confidential information that is collected and stored including - payment card information and personally identifiable information (PII).

What hotel guests may not realize is that thieves are targeting them directly, too. 

Here are 5 surprising hotel scams to watch for and avoid.

  1. Online Booking: Criminals are creating ‘mirror’ web pages for hotels that look like the real thing (with a resort name, fake phone numbers, and photos) – but aren’t. When unsuspecting guests book this way, their confidential booking information ends up with a third-party operator. Avoid this scam: Use a reputable third party, or book with the hotel directly. Always cheque the website’s URL (‘https://’ and a lock symbol in the search bar indicate the site is secure).  
  2. Food Delivery Scam: Want to have food delivered to your hotel room? Scam artists are also creating realistic-looking food menus and sliding them under hotel room doors. Hotel guests who order from these menus have to pay with a credit card… but the food never arrives. Avoid this scam: Do an internet search to make sure the restaurant exists. Ask the hotel front desk about the restaurant.
  3. Urgent After-Hours Call: A few years ago, guests at a Dallas, Texas inn were contacted by phone by the ‘front desk’ at 2:30 in the morning. They were told there was an unexpected glitch in the computer system and credit card numbers had to be re-confirmed – before a 3 a.m. audit. Avoid this scam: Never give out credit card or other confidential information over the phone, especially in an ‘urgent’ and unusual scenario. Contact the front desk to verify. 
  4. Fake Courtesy Call: Hotel scam artists are also getting a jump on ‘courtesy calls’, which are often made to make sure everything’s in order for guests who have just checked in. Be especially wary when the ‘front desk’ caller says a credit card was declined and needs to be re-verified. Avoid this scam: It’s not likely hotel staff would ask for credit card information over the phone. Go to the front desk in person.
  5. Hotspot Scam: Free Wi-Fi is common in public areas like hotel lobbies and rooms. But there's a wireless internet skimming scam that involves a hotspot called ‘free Wi-Fi’ or something similar. While the connection is free and there’s no password needed, data is routed through several points including a criminal’s computerAvoid this scam: Find out from the front desk what the preferred network is for the hotel and how to access it. Make sure it’s a secure connection, and if possible, use a virtual private network (VPN).

Always protect confidential information and mobile devices when you are travelling. Ask the hotel about secure destruction of paper documents you no longer need.

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