Beware hotel phone scam

hotel phone scam
Don’t give your credit card details if “the front desk” seems to be calling you in your hotel room. It’s a scam!

Heads up, travelers. Beware the clever new scam happening in hotels now.

In order to thwart it, proactive properties are placing notes like this one into guest rooms:

Dear Guest:

Lately, scam artists are attempting to secure credit card numbers from guests in hotels. They’re calling guest rooms at random and claiming to be hotel employees needing to verify credit card information. For your own protection, please do not give your credit card number over the telephone while staying in the hotel. …

Hotel phone scam

My regular readers know that I stay in hotels more than 200 nights a year, and I research scams and cons. Yet, even I could very easily have fallen for this perfectly believable trick. It falls into the “pretexting” and “social engineering” categories. I got a chill reading this hotel management’s note, having just received a similar phone call in a different hotel a few days before. It took me a moment to recall that the request was for my frequent stay account number, not my credit card. Whew!

I’ve confirmed this ruse’s widespread existence with police and hotel security chiefs in several countries. Although aware of the ploy, not all properties believe in taking a proactive approach. As always, it’s up to us travelers to look after ourselves.

“Somehow they get the guest’s name, call the room, and explain that they are from either room service or the front desk and need the credit card number again,” the security director of a major hotel group told me.

“We never connect calls if the person calling can’t say the name of the guest he/she is looking for,” said the security manager of another hotel chain.

But a phone-pharming data-miner can sequentially call every room in a hotel once he knows the phone number convention. Most of us, as generally trusting (and/or oblivious) humans, will miss the fact that the data-miner on the phone fails to address us by name. If he’s any good, he’ll get “the name on the card” just as easily as he gets every other useful tidbit, and I’d bet he gathers quite a few “profiles.”
© Copyright 2008-2009 Bambi Vincent. All rights reserved.

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  • So what can you do to stay secure and help foil the fraudsters.
    Do you think that the big three set this system up entirely to
    protect the consumer’ Is this the credit reporting
    agencies way to deal with or punish credit
    repair mill dispute letters’ Is another way the credit reporting agencies
    are working with creditors to sort out the good from the bad
    credit risks. According to the Federal Trade Commission,
    there are several ways in which someone can steal your identity.
    So the only way that a defendant in a credit card fraud case
    can prove that the purchase he made was not illegal is to
    have it in writing.

  • No, I think most non criminals simply don’t think along those lines. We don’t actively assume each contact is innocent,it’s just an automatic response. I guess we should all become automatic cynics.

  • Wow. And thanks. But what gets us as we sit here and read this: how can those same people who are so amazingly dense have amassed the money they need to stay at the same hotels as you?

    Our guess is good cons require people with exceptional credentials on both sides of the equation – slick hustlers on the one side and candidates for eviction from the gene pool on the other.

    You’d think people who’ve been clever enough to secure financial success would not be gullible to such tricks.

    You’d think… :/

    Thanks for another great post!

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