November 11, 2016

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Scam Alert: Hotel Billing Scams

As Thanksgiving approaches in the U.S., many are getting ready to make their book their travel and pack their suitcases to visit family over the holidays.

If you are in the hospitality business, here’s a hotel scam you may want to make your patrons aware of.

Because people are in unfamiliar situations when traveling, they can be targets for fraud and theft. Thieves count on the fact that travelers often don’t have a chance to check their financial accounts until they get home, especially when there’s a holiday involved.

In one of the most prevalent travel-related schemes, thieves seek out hotel guests and persuade them to reveal names, home addresses, credit card numbers, and other personal information that can be used for identity theft.

How It Works

These hotel scams start with a phone call — sometimes in the middle of the night, when your patrons are sure to be groggy — in which the caller purports to be from the front desk or management office.

Typically, the caller says that the hotel’s computer system is down or that your customer’s data has been lost due to a technical glitch. Even though it might be after midnight, the caller claims that they need credit card information and related address information immediately. Sometimes they even give a reason, such as the necessity to complete the day’s audit before 3 a.m.

In some cases, the caller insists that the information is needed for faster checkout or that providing credit card data by phone will result in reduced room charges.

Preventing Theft

In many cases, preventing these hotel scams is as simple as giving the advice to your patrons to just not give out sensitive information, except in person. Also, informing customers that if a caller becomes angry, just remember that’s how they manipulate people by putting them on the defensive.

Also, if the caller insists that the requested information can only be given over the phone, then it’s most likely a scam. Advising your patrons to simply hang up and head to the front desk as soon as they can to report the incident to the hotel manager.

If your customer believes the call may have been authentic , then they can simply let the person know they’ll stop at the front desk soon. Any hotel will accept this answer, since it means the issue will be resolved shortly.

Much like other travel safety tactics, avoiding hotel scams and being aware of common scams like this one will allow your patrons to focus on the holidays without the hassles — and without the risk of identity theft.

And, to take this a step further since the hospitality business is based on customer loyalty, providing your patrons with access to an identity theft management solution may be something you want to consider to add to your customer reward programs. At IdentityForce, we offer flexible options that can keep your customers identity safe.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Falk Lademann.

David Rabinovitz

Identity Protection Consultant at IdentityForce
David is aligned closely with c-level principals and provides them with coaching services focused on strategy, finance, ownership, deal structuring, and shareholder relationships, which led him to join one of his high-growth clients as their CFO. As a high-energy executive with a wealth of experience, David is a versatile corporate “fireman” who skills are often sought after to assess and resolve complex business challenges, as he brings critical insight for business leaders in transition.He is also a long-standing Special Crew Volunteer for Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual cycling fundraiser that strives to provide Dana-Farber's doctors and researchers the necessary resources to discover cures for all types of cancer.

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