BBB alert: Beware of hotel scams

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ATLANTA–Are you planning to stay in a hotel soon? Keep your personal information protected since tourist and business travelers are often considered the easiest targets. Hotels provide scammers an easy path towards their goal of trying to separate a traveler from their cash.

Here are five common hotel scams to be aware of:

Fake Website
When making online hotel reservations, make sure the website is legitimate. Scammers are famous for creating look-alike web pages to lure consumers into providing credit card information.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association is a BBB National Partner. They provided some tips to follow before booking a hotel room.

Fake Food Delivery
Make sure the menus left in the hotel room are authentic. Dining-in can feel like a tempting option, especially after a day of traveling or exploration, but you could end up ordering from a restaurant that doesn’t even exist.

Scammers will distribute fake menus to rooms with phone numbers that connect the caller to them instead of the hotel or a real business. They will collect the caller’s credit card information over the phone then never deliver food.

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

Fake Front Desk Calls
Hotel guests may receive a late-night phone call from someone impersonating the front desk. The caller asks for credit card information claiming there’s a problem with the credit card on file – they may say it was declined. They need to re-verify payment information or lose all of the financial information and run an audit at a specific time.

The scammer will offer to take your credit card information over the phone so that you’re not inconvenienced. However, an actual hotel staff member will never ask for your credit card information over the phone at odd hours of the night well after you’ve checked in and will always ask to settle up any charges at the front desk.

Always notify the hotel management of any calls of this nature.

“Free” Wi-Fi Connections
When staying at a hotel, free internet access is often touted as a benefit of being a guest. However, this also provides scammers 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 it’s not safe. Most of the time, a hotel scam artist controls the connection through their computer, collecting all the data the traveler transmits – websites accessed, passwords used, card information, etc.

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

Checkout Scam
When checking into a hotel, the front desk always asks to give a form of payment to keep on file, such as a credit or debit card, for incidentals. However, at checkout, guests can decide to pay with another method, such as cash.

No matter what payment method is used, get a receipt. This provides a record of all charges during the stay, so if the payment changes from credit to cash, you can dispute any charges to the credit card on file if that should happen and have the receipt to prove it.

The best way to prevent being scammed at checkout is to use the form of payment that you put on file when checking in. Consider using a credit card versus a debit card. If your number is compromised, using your debit card provides access to the checking account and a potentially challenging situation in correcting the situation with the bank.

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

For more information, visit BBB.org.

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