January 25, 2015

January 25, 2015
Don't Fall for These Three Hotel Scams

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great weekend. It is another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Since we travel around the world speaking at events, we stay at a lot of hotels. Having been in a lot of hotels, we have seen three hotel scams we would like to warn you in advance.

Many travelers view their hotel rooms as their safe place while visiting a new city. In their hotel room, they are invulnerable to the hustle and bustle, and are allowed to rest and relax after a day of adventuring. But even the most savvy of world travelers are unaware of the risks of sophisticated scams that start right inside your hotel room.

Even when we think we're the safest, danger always lurks around the corner. And because travelers are often looked at as an easy target, scam artists are always looking for the easy way to part a traveler from their money. Putting aside taxi scams for a moment (which can be relevant at hotels around the world), here are three hotel scams that you need to be prepared for as you travel.

Hotel Scam No. 1: Fake Hotel Food Delivery

It's not uncommon to find a number of menus in your hotel room for local dining options. And how many times have you come to your room to find a menu slid underneath the door? While the menu looks real, it may be a restaurant that doesn't exist at all.

Here's how the scam works: the scam artist creates and prints a menu that looks realistic. Once created, the menus are slid underneath the doors of hotel rooms, inviting guests of the hotel to order in at the end of the day. What guests don't know is that the restaurant doesn't exist. When a guest places the order, they will be asked to pay for their order by credit card. The food never comes, and the scam artists get away with the guest's credit card information.

Before you decide to order in, make sure that your restaurant actually exists. A simple internet search of restaurants in the area of your hotel will give you plenty of dining options. And if you have any doubt, ask the front desk if there are any restaurants that deliver to the hotel - they should be happy to provide you the menus from several local restaurants.

Hotel Scam No. 2: Fake Front Desk Charges

Many high quality hotels are trained to make a phone call to your room 15 minutes after your check-in, just to make sure that your room is perfect. But have you ever gotten a call from the front desk with another issue?

Although it's becoming less common, the front desk call scam can still be a problem - especially in developing parts in the world. It starts when you get a call to your room phone from someone claiming to be at your hotel's front desk. Often times, they will claim that the hold on your card was declined, and they need to re-verify your credit card number. As a convenience, they are more than happy to take your credit card information over the phone, so that you can go back to your vacation in progress.

A real member of your hotel's staff should never ask for credit card information over the phone. Should you get a phone call about a credit card problem, never give the calling party any information. Instead, always offer to come down to the front desk to sort it out. If the caller insists that it must be taken care of immediately, then simply hang up, and either call or walk down to the hotel front desk.

Hotel Scam No. 3: "Free" WiFi Connections

Nobody enjoys paying for wifi internet access at their hotels. Which makes the "Free WiFi" hotspot popup even more tempting.

A growing problem, wifi "skimming" is a new scam that targets you through the promise of free internet access. Common at hotels and other public places, like coffee shops and bus stations, the scam works by setting up a "free" wifi hotspot - usually aptly named to get your attention. Though the internet connection will be free to access, your data can route through several points, including a scam artist's computer. Because they are hosting the connection, they can see all data you transmit through their wifi signal - including websites, usernames, and passwords used during your session.

Before you connect to a network, make sure that it is a legitimate network. Many networks will be secure, and require you to have a password to access. Other secure networks will usually have the name of the property or hotel chain in the network ID, and will advertise their wifi network on printed materials. Be sure to ask which is the preferred network at your hotel, and how you can access it once you're there.

Keeping yourself safe from common hotel scams simply takes a little know-how of what to be aware of. By knowing the scammer's tricks, you can worry less about losing your data, and focus on having a great trip.

Hope you have a beary safe and great Sunday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab