Staying at a hotel should be an enjoyable experience. But unfortunately, there are many scams out there that can make it a nightmare. To help protect your personal information and money, it is important to be aware of the most common hotel scams and how to help avoid them.
5 Common Hotel Scams
Hotels are a popular target for scammers due to the high volume of guests and transactions that take place. Here are 5 common hotel scams that you should be aware of:
Fake Booking Websites
Scammers can create fake hotel booking websites that look identical to legitimate ones. They can then trick unsuspecting travelers into making a reservation and paying for it, only to find out upon arrival that their booking doesn’t exist. To know if you are booking with reliable hotel websites, check the URL. It should have a secure HTTPS connection. Also, review the site itself. It’s likely a scam website if there are typos, grammar errors and overall poor website design.
Free Wi-Fi is a doorway for scammers, but not everyone realizes it. The problem is that cybercriminals use various techniques and tools to steal personal data, passwords, and banking information. When your data is exposed, you are more vulnerable to serious security risks.
Some of the most common threats include:
- Man-in-the-Middle (MITM)
This is a type of cyberattack where the attacker intercepts communication between two parties and can eavesdrop or manipulate the communication. In this type of attack, the attacker sits between the two parties and pretends to be each of them, intercepting communication and controlling the flow of information between them.
MITM attacks can steal sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card information and other personal data.
- Wi-Fi Snooping
Wi-Fi snooping, also known as Wi-Fi hacking or Wi-Fi piggybacking, is a practice where someone gains unauthorized access to a Wi-Fi network through various means. This can be done by intercepting the wireless signals between a Wi-Fi access point and a device or using software tools to crack the encryption to secure the Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi snooping can steal sensitive information from the devices connected to the Wi-Fi network, such as login credentials or personal data. It can also be used to monitor the users’ online activities connected to the network.
- Malicious Hotspots
Malicious hotspots, also known as rogue hotspots, are Wi-Fi networks set up by hackers or cybercriminals to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting users. These hotspots are designed to look like legitimate Wi-Fi networks but are set up to capture the data transmitted by users who connect to them.
Don’t access sensitive information if you use free Wi-Fi in your hotel room or elsewhere. Instead, use a VPN and stick to HTTPS websites. Enable the firewall and use antivirus software regularly. Options such as these give you some sense of security and reliability.
Fake Food Delivery
A scammer can distribute a fake food menu to your hotel room. This menu has a phone number that connects you to the scammer rather than the hotel staff or a real business. They can ask for your credit card information on the phone but never deliver food.
Before you decide to order delivery, call the front desk. Ask them for any recommendations in the local area that offer reputable services.
Fake Front Desk Calls
You might get a phone call in the middle of the night from someone who impersonates the front desk. These are some of the most well-known hotel scams. The person may ask about your credit card information or claim there is a problem with it, its expiration date, etc.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns travelers to pay close attention to checkout scams. When you check out of your accommodations, pick the same form of payment that you used when you checked in. You should use a credit card instead of a debit card.
But some travelers prefer to pay in cash. Regardless of the payment method you use, ask the front desk for a receipt. Keep this receipt so that you have a record of the charges made while you stayed in the hotel. Then, you can dispute any charges with the receipt.
Best Tips for Avoiding Hotel Scams
Do Some Research
Do some research when booking a hotel and check the reviews. See what other people say and if scams were reported. Also, check if the address listed on the hotel website exists. For any further information, contact the front desk.
Ideally, you should book your accommodation directly by contacting the hotel.
Monitor Credit Card Transactions
Check your credit card transactions regularly to catch any suspicious activity on your account. This can include unauthorized charges, duplicate charges, or charges from merchants that you don’t recognize.
Protect Your Personal Information
Consider using IdentityIQ identity theft protection services. This service helps keep your information safe and helps minimize identity theft risk. IdentityIQ plans include real-time credit monitoring, fraud alerts, dark web monitoring and identity restoration experts ready to assist you.
How to Report Hotel Scams
If you are a victim of hotel scams, you can issue a report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also report the hotel scam to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).