BBB scam alert: beware of hotel scams

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TUCSON (KVOA) – Planning to stay in a hotel in the near future? The Better Business Bureau urges you to protect your personal information, as tourists and business travelers are often considered the easier targets. Hotels provide an easy way for scammers to achieve their goal of trying to separate a traveler from their money, the BBB said.

Here are five common hotel scams you should know about:

Fake website

When making hotel reservations online, make sure the website is legitimate. Scammers are known to create similar web pages in order to trick consumers into providing credit card information.

the American Hotel and Accommodation Association is a national partner of the BBB. They provided some advice to follow before booking a hotel room.


False food delivery

Make sure the menus left in the hotel room are genuine. Dining in may seem like a temporary option, especially after a day of traveling or exploring, but you could end up ordering at a restaurant that doesn’t even exist.

Scammers will hand out fake menus to rooms with phone numbers that link the caller to them instead of the hotel or real business. They will collect credit card information from callers over the phone and then never deliver food.

Before deciding to order, do some research and make sure the business exists. Confirm with reception for restaurant recommendations.


False calls to reception

Hotel guests may receive a late night phone call from someone pretending to be the front desk. The caller requests credit card information claiming that there is a problem with the registered credit card – they may say it was declined, they need to recheck the payment information, or they have lost all financial information and has to audit by some time.

The scammer will offer to take your credit card information over the phone, so you won’t be inconvenienced. However, a real hotel staff member will never ask for your credit card information over the phone at odd hours of the night long after you check in and will always ask for all charges to be paid at reception.

Always inform the hotel management of any such call.

“Free” Wi-Fi connections

When staying in a hotel, free internet access is often touted as a perk of being a guest, however, it also provides scammers with an “in”. Wireless Internet “skimming” targets travelers with the promise of free Internet access. This usually appears in the common areas of the hotel. The connection is free to access but is not secure. Most of the time, a hotel con artist controls the connection through their computer, collecting all the data transmitted by the traveler – websites visited, passwords used, card information, etc.

Before joining a network, make sure the Wi-Fi connection is secure and hosted by the hotel. Many secure connections require a two-step verification process. Instead, consider using your cell phone provider’s network after checking authorized data usage or your provider’s hotspot if available.

Cash register scam

When checking in at a hotel, front desk always asks to provide a method of payment to keep, such as a credit or debit card, for incidentals. However, upon check-out, customers may decide to pay using another method, such as cash.

Regardless of the payment method used, get a receipt. This provides a record of all charges during the stay. So if the payment goes from credit to cash, you can dispute the charge on the registered credit card if it happens and have the receipt to prove it.

The best way to avoid being scammed at checkout is to use the payment method that you saved when checking in. Consider using a credit card rather than a debit card. If your number is compromised, using your debit card gives access to the checking account and is a potentially difficult situation to correct the situation with the bank.

If you come across a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/scamtracker.

For more information and trusted companies visit BBB.org.

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