Better Business Bureau warns of credit card fraud
A recent scam targeting several guests of a Dallas hotel has turned what used to be a foreign identity theft scam into a domestic problem.
It prompted the Better Business Bureau to issue an alert to increase awareness of hotel scams that target credit cards.
It seems the would-be ID thieves prey on the fact that hotel guests tend to let their guard down when away from home.
The scammers place calls to hotel rooms and state that the credit card number on file was lost, is the wrong number, has the wrong (or missing) expiration date, or a similar problem.
Some scammers even claim the hotel’s computer system crashed and they need to re-enter the card information.
Thing is, just about every domestic hotel -- and many located in foreign lands, too – won't call and request that information be given over the phone. If there is a problem, they’ll generally request you make a trip to the front desk.
In the Dallas scam, the victims received calls late at night when they were asleep, so their defenses were down.
How do you fend off this type of scamming attack?
Never give out your credit card (or any personal) information over the phone unless you are certain you know who you’re speaking to.
If you call a store to place a mail order or want to pay for a pizza that’s going to be delivered, you’re probably OK.
You initiated those calls.
But if someone calls your hotel room, office or home asking you to verify a credit card number, that’s a huge red flag.
And if you happen to receive one of these calls the next time you’re staying at a hotel, ask the caller for his name so you can meet him at the front desk -- in person -- to straighten out any billing errors or issues.
Then hang up and march down to the front desk.
Chances are the staff will have a look of bewilderment since they didn’t call you and there’s no computer glitch.
But they will know that someone is targeting their guests.
Other ways to keep your credit cards and your identity safe when you’re away from home include:
- Don’t hide them in your luggage or somewhere in the room. If you don’t want to carry your wallet or credit cards with you, stash those -- and anything else with personal information like your laptop -- in the hotel safe.
- Keep account information handy. If your card or card’s number fall into the wrong hands, a phone call to the card issuer’s customer service (or fraud prevention) department can generally shut things down ASAP.
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