You’ve packed your bags, you’re making your way to your vacation destination and when you get to your hotel, all you can think about is being able to sit back and relax.
You get to your hotel room, unwind and lay your head down on your pillow for a quick disco nap… then, the hotel phone rings.
“Who could that be?” you wonder, hoping this will be the last interruption before you fully proceed into vacation mode.
When you pick up the phone you immediately hear, “Hi this is ______ (hotel name) manager, Paul, at the front desk. I’m so sorry, but we’re having a glitch with our computer system and we need to confirm every guest for insurance purposes.”
They ask you for some information and without hesitation, you hand over your personal information and credit card number so you can get on with your beauty rest before your big night out on the town.
Little did you know that when you voluntarily gave your information, what you thought would be a relaxing getaway, has now made a turn for the worse. You’ve just been made victim to the hotel room phone scam: a scam that happens more often in the middle of the night or early morning when scammers try to catch hotel guests off-guard.
The Better Business Bureau says scammers often call hotels and ask for random room numbers, reported WRAL. When the groggy guest answers, the imposter hotel employee asks to check the last four numbers of the guest’s credit card. When the guest says the numbers are wrong, the caller asks for all 16 digits and the spelling of the name on the card.
But this scam isn’t only targeting those traveling in the U.S. “There’s a growing black market for stolen credit card numbers in Krakow,” writes World Nomads in regards to traveling in Poland. “Some visitors have fallen victim to credit card scams, like this one; after a long day of travel, the victim is awakened when the hotel room phone rings. It’s the receptionist apologizing for the late hour but asking to verify credit-card details. The victim reads them out and drifts back to sleep. It’s not until much later when they realize that “front desk” was actually a front for something else.”
So, the next time you’re staying at a hotel and you receive an unexpected call from the front desk requesting personal and financial information, hang-up the phone and head straight to the lobby. Asking the hotel manager or concierge face-to-face if they called your room for information is the best way to avoid becoming a victim. It will also alert the hotel staff to the fact that phone scammers are using their hotel as a medium for fraud and they can keep an eye out for it.