Summer is one of the busiest times of the year for travel. People want to take advantage of the nice weather to visit places they’ve always wanted to go and see the things that they’ve always wanted to see. Peak travel times are also peak operation times for scammers.
According the Better Business Bureau (U.S. and Canada), number four on the BBB’s top 10 scams of 2011 list was the front-desk scam that targets travelers.
Once a traveler has checked in to his hotel room and gotten himself settled in, the phone rings. The caller tells the traveler that she’s working at the front desk and has discovered a problem with his credit card. She invites him to come down to the front desk to sort out the problem, or he can just give her his credit card number and three-digit security code over the phone. If the traveler gives his credit card information out over the phone, he’s given the scammer the ability to buy whatever she wants at his expense. The calls are usually random — the scammers call a hotel, ask for a room number and then hope to be connected – and made in the middle of the night.
It’s policy in most – if not all – hotels to refuse to connect a caller to anyone’s room unless the caller also knows the name of the person who’s staying there. But let’s face it; people are fallible, and when the front desk is busy, a clerk could forget to ask for a name and connect a scammer to an unsuspecting traveler’s room.
Such a mistake could be devastating for both the traveler and the hotel. Travelers would avoid staying in a hotel where someone had been scammed out of his credit card information. So, it’s a good idea for hotel executives to protect themselves and their guests by providing guests with information about how to spot and avoid falling prey to such scams. But travelers have to take some responsibility for the safety of their credit card information, too.
The simplest way to avoid being duped by the front-desk scam is to go to the front desk and confirm that there is a problem with the credit card. After alerting the desk clerk to the scam, it’s a good idea to also call the Better Business Bureau and report what happened.
Hotel executives and travelers must go on high alert to protect themselves from scammers. Although an unsuspecting traveler could end up losing a lot of money, a hotel could lose a lot more if travelers stopped using it because they didn’t think it valued their safety and security.
Be careful, when you combine this scam with a website like Please Rob Me…travellers maybe in for a rude awakening on the road and when they get home.