Travel

Four hotel scams to avoid

Summer travel often includes several relaxing nights at a hotel. But if you're not careful, you could be the victim of creative hotel scams that con artists have come up with to steal your money or your identity.

The Federal Trade Commission recently wrote about scams targeting hotel guests. Another warning comes from the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security. Here's a rundown of these schemes.

1. Credit card info request

Someone calls you from the hotel front desk, saying there's problem with your credit card information, which you must provide again. Seems legit, right? But it's not the front desk, it's a scammer trying to trick you into divulging information needed to make purchases on your card.

Avoid it. Don't provide billing information over the phone. Go to the front desk to discuss the problem, if there really is one.

2. Fake food delivery flyers

A flyer for pizza delivery appears under your hotel door. You call to place an order and provide your credit card info. Your promised pie never arrives, and the scammer now has your credit info.

Avoid it. Make sure the restaurant is legit before calling by checking with the front desk or confirming the restaurant's information online. Insist on paying on delivery.

Planning to travel? Check out our hotel buying guide.

3. Sound-alike wireless network

When you search for wireless networks on your own computer or mobile device, you find one with the name of the hotel or something similar. Unfortunately the network doesn't belong to the hotel at all, but to a scammer out to steal information it intercepts over the rogue connection. 

Avoid it. Ask the hotel for details on how to identify and access any wireless network available to guests. But even then, use caution. You never know when any public Wi-Fi hotspot is being used to gather user information.

4. Computer keystroke monitoring software

This is another scam aimed at collecting your personal information from a computer. A recent alert from the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security warns about scammers installing so-called keylogging software on computers in hotel business centers, which visitors use to access computers and the Internet, among other things.

According the the website Krebs on Security, which revealed the non-public alert, officials warned that the "suspects were able to obtain large amounts of information including other guests personally identifiable information (PII), log in credentials to bank, retirement and personal webmail accounts, as well as other sensitive data flowing through the business center’s computers."

Avoid it. Always be careful when using public computers at hotels, libraries, and elsewhere. Assume that everything you type is being recorded by someone out to use the data for nefarious purposes.

Anthony Giorgianni


Copyright © 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.