Of all the pitfalls you have to guard against when you travel, getting scammed at your hotel should be one of the last things you have to worry about. It isn’t the hotels or hotel employees that are the problem, either. But, simply staying at a hotel could put you at risk for this common and easy scam.
When you get to the hotel, you check in, head to your room, and get settled in. Maybe you go over the itinerary for the next few days, or maybe you get ready for a night on the town. You might even simply relax for the night, with your feet up and no worries about the normal daily routines.
Then, the phone rings. The voice on the other end introduces themselves as a hotel clerk. They are apologetic, but they really need some information from you. It seems that there is a problem with your credit card (or the “system” itself). Can you please read the numbers off to them, along with your name as it appears on the card?
When they are really on their game, they might even ask for the CV code, your address and/or social security number.
This is NOT a hotel clerk. If the card wasn’t going to go through, you wouldn’t have been able to check in from the start.
If you happen to be unfortunate enough to run into this problem, simply tell the “clerk” that you will be right down to the desk to verify your information, show them your card or whatever it is they propose to need from you. Then, hang up and call the front desk to find out what’s really going on.
Scammers are able to do this because they only need to call the hotel and get transferred to your room. The call seems legitimate to the traveler because they have no idea who else would be calling or know their room number other than those closest to them and the real hotel clerks.
Whether it’s in a hotel, at work or in your own home, always call the known business number to verify when you are presented with a request for your private information. Try to conduct your business in person as much as you can. If this isn’t possible, look up the number for the business you are dealing with and never take incoming calls at face value and without verification.