With so many new hotels popping up around the world each year, the risk of getting scammed within one is only getting higher. Many illusive hotel scams are designed to scam innocent and unaware travelers. Here are the top hotel scams to watch out for next time you go on vacation.
Free Wi-Fi is seen as the norm in most hotels nowadays. Criminals have unfortunately started taking advantage of this by using Wi-Fi skimming. This is the process of using a ‘free’ Wi-Fi network to steal information from people who are completely unaware. All the scammer needs to do is set up a hotspot named “Free Wi-Fi” within the hotel. Unsuspecting people then start to use this connection and data that is used on your device will be sent directly to the scammer’s computer. This gives the scammer access to usernames and passwords of websites you’ve been using. You can see how dangerous this can be.
The best solution for this scam is to make sure that you know the correct network name of the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. The official hotel network will usually require a password such as your room number. It’s a good idea to confirm the network name and password with an employee at the front desk. Never connect to a network named “Free Wi-Fi” without verifying it first. Remember to always take measures to protect your online information.
A Room With A View
Just because your booking says that your room includes an ‘ocean-view’ doesn’t always mean that you’ll get the view that you expected. An ‘ocean-view’ may simply mean that you’re able to see a fraction of the ocean from your room. Hotel booking sites often use vague language to describe the setting and benefits of a room. Remember that if you received a good rate for your room, you may not be getting a room with the view that you expect.
A good idea is to use Google Street View to check out the location of the hotel before you book. Google Street View allows you to take a 360-degree tour of the hotel’s exterior and you’ll be able to see what the views from the hotel rooms will be like.
Fake Front Desk Charges
Many high-end hotels are known to give a courtesy call to the guest’s room around 15 minutes after check-in. This is done to make sure that guests are happy with their accommodation and amenities.
Scammers are aware of this and are known to make a ‘courtesy call’ to an unsuspecting guest. A traveler receiving the call from what they think is a front desk employee is none the wiser that it’s a scammer on the other end of the phone. This ‘employee’ will often claim that the guest’s credit card was declined and that they need to re-verify the payment. Before you know it, a criminal has access to the guest’s credit card details. Remember that hotel personnel will never ask for your credit card information over the phone. Be sure to sort out any payment issues at the hotel’s front desk.
Fake Food Delivery
It’s not uncommon to find a couple of local restaurant menus in your hotel room. It’s thought to be safe to order in but be careful next time you make an order. Scam artists are known to create realistic looking menu’s which they slide under hotel doors. Although the menu looks completely normal, guests are asked to pay with their credit card over the phone. The reality is that your food never arrives because it was a fake menu and the scam artist has gained access to your credit card details.
An easy way to avoid this is to research the restaurant’s phone number before you make an order to make sure that they’re an authentic restaurant.
Hotels in certain countries take advantage of perceived inferior water standards. Hotel staff may warn travelers against drinking tap water even when it’s perfectly safe to drink. This causes travelers to act in fear and pressurizes them into buying overpriced bottled water out of the minibar. These bottled waters are often not labeled with a price and so what you think you’re getting for free is often charged to your account.
Over-priced bottled water has more impact on guests than hotels realize and often leaves a ‘sour taste’ in their mouth. It’s recommended that you research the viability of the drinking water for the country you’re staying in as it may be perfectly fine to drink.
As you can see, there are many hotel scams that you need to avoid. Traveling need not be daunting, but the key is to stay aware of these and other scams to stay safe the next time you travel.