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:
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.”