Credit Card

Credit card scams

It’s one of the best things about getting to the room of the hotel. Dumping the bags and being greeting by crispy fresh white bed sheets. Resting the weary eyes usually salutes the start of relaxation, no longer needing to be on your guard for pickpockets and others pests. However, one of the latest scams is catching out even the most seasoned travellers, stealing their credit card details from the comfort of their hotel room.

The scenario starts with the phone in the hotel room ringing, usually at a late hour. The receptionist on the end of the line claims to be calling from the front desk wanting to verify some information. They apologise for calling at such a late hour but explain there was a shift change and some forms were left incomplete. They want to make sure they have the form, so they read out the last four digits of a credit card number – of course, it doesn’t match the customer’s. The customer corrects them, and reads the full number out to them, followed by the expiration date and their name. The receptionist appears to have found the form and again apologises for the confusion. Unfortunately they already have the information they need to commit identity fraud.

Another scam prying on the sleepy eyed hotel guest is those wanting to please their appetite. Fraudsters have been distributing bogus takeaway flyers for pizza takeaway menus. The hotel guest would call to make the order, providing their name, room number and credit card information. Obviously, the pizza doesn’t arrive and their identities have been stolen. This has been a big problem in the USA, especially around Florida’s metropolis of tourist hotels.

In the care-free mode that comes when on holiday, many travellers also open up tabs at the bar and leave the credit or debit card with the bartender. This can be risky though, as when the card’s bill arrives, it often comes with a nasty surprise. There have been instances where travellers have had bills for over £10,000 added to their card from a number of costly transactions that were made over the bar. Often the result of alcohol-fuelled party nights where the memories are often left a bit foggy, it can be hard to prove that they were scammed rather than just buying lavish rounds of Champagne and cocktails.

It is important that travellers never lose sight of their credit or debit cards. At home, you wouldn’t think twice about handing a card over to a waiter or shop attendant when making purchases. The chances of them taking the name, number and expiry date to use for future use would be so slim – and easily traceable. However, in some countries where security measures aren’t as up to speed as elsewhere, many travellers return home to see mysterious items on their bills, such as over-priced restaurant bills, and shops abroad adding valuable items that weren’t purchased such as Turkish rugs and Indian tapestry. Such situations can be hard to track down, as many travellers don’t remember the details such as the name of the vendor, shop name, street name, or even what area of town it was located.

Holiday makers have to been extra cautious when using credit cards abroad, especially within hotels as it is estimated that 38 percent of credit-card fraud hacking cases stems from the hotel industry. Such cases showcase the confusion around what’s considered to be negligence with credit card security, and who is responsible is sometimes left a grey area.

To try to keep your card best protected, it is advised that:

– You should never give your credit card information out over the phone, even if it is a hotel representative. Instead, ask their name and say that you will visit reception in person the next morning. They could be calling from an external number, or could have even sneaked behind the front desk.

– If using a takeaway service, check the company and the number within the phone book provided or verify the company with a member of staff from the hotel.

– Never lose sight of your credit card. Do not open up tabs, and if paying for items in a shop, where possible use cash. If paying by card, use a credit card instead of a debit card and make a note of the details of where large purchases were made.

There are often problems in Eastern Europe with credit card bills from tabs being opened in bars. The USA has a number of problems with hotel credit card scams and it is not advisable to use credit and debit cards in third world countries such as India.

Date posted: 3rd September, 2012

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