MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Since we're smack in the middle of travel season, I thought I'd remind you of a scam I first reported back in 2015: the hotel room scam.
The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South alerted me that scammers have been worming their way into hotel rooms to trick guests into giving up their credit card numbers. The bureau's Communications Director Nancy Crawford said they're either posing as front desk clerks or convincing front desk clerks to forward their outside calls into guests' rooms. When they reach a guest, they request the guest's credit card number.
"They tell the guest that there is a problem with our computer system, and we are having to manually process all of the credit cards," said a Memphis-area hotel manager who asked not to be identified. "We would never ask for that information over the phone."
Crawford said the scam is so prevalent that some hotels are posting signs at their front desks, warning guests not to give out credit card numbers or any other personal information to anyone who calls their rooms. She said the calls can happen anytime, but they're mostly calling in the middle of the night. "The crooks are hoping to catch you while you're sleeping, so you aren't thinking clearly," said Crawford.
Here are the typical ruses scammers are using in the hotel room phone scam, according to Crawford:
* There's a problem with your credit card, and they need to verify your number.
* The hotel's computer has crashed, and they need to get your credit card information to run it manually.
* The hotel's computer system has crashed, and your credit card information is needed for an audit to be conducted shortly.
BBB'S TIPS TO FIGHT THE HOTEL ROOM PHONE SCAM:
* Never give your credit card or banking information over the phone to someone who calls you. Hotels will never solicit this information over the phone.
* On the off-chance there actually is some sort of problem with your credit card, the hotel will know that before you even finish checking in and will ask you at that time to provide a different payment method.
* If you get a call from someone claiming to be a hotel employee, hang up the phone and call the front desk yourself. Chances are the call didn't come from the hotel.
* Remind friends and family not to provide credit card information over the phone during a hotel stay.
* If you do fall for this scam, file a police report and contact your credit card company immediately.