Should You Be Concerned About This Hotel Scam Alert?

One of the members of our Facebook group recently brought this reported hotel scam to our attention. I saw some holes in it, so I decided to do some investigating.

You know how stories can perpetuate on the internet – especially on Facebook. Someone posts something and people just start sharing it, whether it’s based in fact or not. That’s why online hoaxes are so successful (here are so ways to recognize travel hoaxes).

Anyway, this is just one version of a hotel scam that’s been making the rounds for about a decade.

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I included Lori’s name in the post because it’s a public post on FB anyway

This is one of the best scams I’ve heard about.
You arrive at your hotel and check in at the front desk. Typically when checking in, you give the front desk your credit card (for any charges to your room).

You go to your room and settle in. All is good.

The hotel receives a call and the caller asks for (as an example) room 620 – which happens to be your room.

The phone rings in your room. You answer and the person on the other end says the following: ‘This is the front desk. When checking in, we came across a problem with your charge card information. Please re-read me your credit card number and verify the last 3 digits numbers at the reverse side of your charge card.’

Not thinking anything wrong, since the call seems to come from the front desk you oblige.
But actually, it is a scam by someone calling from outside the hotel.
They have asked for a random room number, then ask you for your credit card and address information.
They sound so professional, that you think you are talking to the front desk.

If you ever encounter this scenario on your travels, tell the caller that you will be down to the front desk to clear up any problems. Then, go to the front desk or call directly and ask if there was a problem.
If there was none, inform the manager of the hotel that someone tried to scam you of your credit card information, acting like a front desk employee.

This was sent by someone who has been duped……..and is still cleaning up the mess.

ANYONE travelling should be aware of this one!

As you can see, Lori’s post is from 2016 and has been shared about 55,000 times. That’s a whole lot. But is there any truth to what she says?

I checked Snopes and their fact checking gives it a “Mixture” of truth.

They explain that the attempt does happen by scammers, but in this day and age, many hotels have a policy of not allowing their switchboard operators to connect an incoming call to a guest’s room unless the caller can also give the guest’s correct name.

Similar suggestions were posted by or on Consumer Affairs, Trip Advisor and NBC News.

There are other telltale ways this scam wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) work:

  • What if they asked for room 602 and no one had rented room 602 that evening?
  • If the switchboard operator DID connect the call without the scammer mentioning the guest’s name, the scammer would still have to somehow get the guest’s name in order to use the credit card. So what would they say? “Hi, we have a problem with your credit card so give me the name AND the 3 or 4 digit code, AND what was your name again?” Ummmm…no. Or, well, someone would have to be REALLY naive to fall for that one.
  • For many hotels, if there actually WAS a problem with a credit card, they’d call customer and ask them to stop by the front desk

Snopes also, obviously, suggests not giving out credit card information without knowing with 100% accuracy who you are talking to – just because they say they’re the front desk doesn’t mean they’re actually the front desk. I would say that should go without saying, but for some people, I uess perhaps not.

*** Many thanks to Rachel M. for giving us the heads up about this topic!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

 

One thought on “Should You Be Concerned About This Hotel Scam Alert?”

  1. It seems like a more plausible scam would be to say that the credit card they used at check-in was declined and ask them if they have another one.

    My guess is that this is more prevalent in small, limited service chain hotels than larger or high-end hotels.

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