How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud When Staying at Hotels
It's not a great feeling when you're on vacation and you have to keep an eye out for scams in every corner.
That situation applies even to your hotel stay.
Crooks and fraudsters will take advantage of unsuspecting guests through various tactics when given the opportunity.
You can protect yourself and avoid having these scammers ruin your much-needed vacation when they steal your credit card information.
You can do this by:
- Becoming aware of the different scams
- Learning a few simples rules
Fake Booking Websites
Who doesn't look for a great deal when planning their trips?
With various travel agencies popping up to guarantee you a cheaper deal on hotel stays, it's not weird to find the best price as some random website that you've never heard of before.
It looked legit.
But, these websites can be designed to steal information from people shopping online for their next trip.
You may have become a victim before the vacation even started.
When you're traveling, an Internet connection can be a hot commodity.
Let's be honest:
We have become so reliant on the web for information and entertainment that many people jump at the chance to hop on a seemingly reliable connection.
Don't forget the many data limits that may be imposed by wireless service providers.
Free Wi-Fi is an attractive amenity provided by hotels. Many of them provide this perk through an unsecured open network.
Anyone can create a Wi-Fi network with a very generic name that may seem like it was created by the hotel.
Here's the scary part:
It could have been operated by a cyberthief, who is watching the data that is being transmitted through the connection.
That means the potential for stolen login credentials and personal information -- plenty enough for identity theft.
Think about those flyers that may be left on the hotel property.
You might grab one just in case you want food delivered to your room later.
Little did you know...
The restaurant doesn't really exist and your food is never going to come. Then, you realize that the person who took your "order" now has your credit card information.
What's next to follow isn't surprising -- fraudulent purchases on your card.
You might not think twice when a hotel staff member contacts you through the room phone.
Imagine the front desk calling you during the middle of the night saying that the computer systems went down and your credit card information is needed again.
To be fair, you're half asleep.
You don't expect some stranger could have your room's phone number.
It's already too late.
The next morning, you walk by the front desk on the way out and inquire about your booking and whether the credit card was still on file.
The clerk says that the computer systems were just fine.
Scammers were able to call your room directly and pretended to be hotel staff in an effort to trick you into revealing your credit card details.
Simple Rules to Protect Yourself
Use a secure website
Whenever you're entering payment information for anything online, look for the secure connection indicator in your web browsers.
Usually, it is denoted by the lock symbol on the URL address bar.
Speak to hotel staff in person
The fact is:
This will thwart most attempts at fraud in hotels.
- Ask the hotel staff for the official Wi-Fi network if you're not provided with dedicated access credentials.
- Speak with the hotel staff about your dining options or recommended nearby restaurants that will deliver.
- You should never provide credit card details over the phone to someone whom you didn't call.
Fraud Liability Protection
There is a good side:
Credit cards come with great fraud protection that basically means you won't lose any money from fraudulent activity.
You won't be responsible for any unauthorized purchases.
But, there is hassle involved.
Because your credit card information has been compromised, card issuers will have to cancel your card immediately.
When you're traveling and moving around, this can prove to be highly inconvenient, especially if that's the only credit card on you.
And, you'll have to change the card number wherever it's being used regularly.
In the end:
It's a hassle that you'd want to avoid.
The Bottom Line
It really is quite unfortunate that thieves prey on you when your guard is down.
It forces you to stay vigilante with your credit card information.
By keeping to the simple rules to protect yourself, you could avoid these types of fraud no matter where you are -- not just at a hotel while on vacation.