Bill Lackey/Staff

BBB: Scammers target people who stay in hotels

Spending the night in a hotel is a common occurrence for millions of Americans. However, getting a phone call in your hotel room in the middle of the night is not. Scammers are always trying to find new ways to get your credit card and other personal information. Better Business Bureau is warning people about a new scam targeting hotel guests.

How this scam works:

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Scammers will call your room posing as hotel employees and ask for your credit card information because the computer system went down or there’s a problem with your credit card and they need to verify the number. They may even claim to need it immediately to meet an audit deadline.

The calls can happen at any time of the day, but are most likely to occur very early in the morning. Scammers hope to catch you sleeping, so you aren’t thinking clearly or willing to get up and walk down to the front desk. Some will even offer a discount on your room for the inconvenience. Many people who fall victim find thousands of dollars worth of bogus charges on their credit cards the next day.

BBB offers these tips to protect yourself from being victimized:

• Never give your credit card or banking information over the phone to someone who calls you. Hotels will not solicit information over the phone.

• Remember, if there’s a problem with your credit card, the hotel should know before you even finish checking in and will ask you to provide a different payment method.

• Hang up the phone if you get a call from someone claiming to be a hotel employee. Walk down to the front desk yourself.

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• Remind friends and family not to provide credit card information over the phone during a hotel stay.

• File a police report and contact your credit card company immediately if you fall victim to this scam.

Hotel scams have been around for years. Other hotel-related scams involve look-alike hotel Web sites, which collect your credit card information. Scammers put fake restaurant menus in hotel rooms. When you call the scammers to place your orders, they collect your credit card information for their own use. Also, be wary logging into free Wi-Fi connections. Make sure your connection is secure and hosted by the hotel. Bogus connections can give access to your computer to scammers.

For more information on how to protect yourself from hotel scams like this, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. You can also request a list of BBB Accredited hotels and Business Profiles on ones you’re considering. Report these scams to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/ScamTracker.

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