How to Avoid Getting Your Credit Card Information Stolen at a Hotel

Watch out: Fraudsters have developed trickier methods to dupe hotel guests into forking over their credit card information.

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Regardless of where you are, there are crooks who want to steal your credit card number—even when you’re in the comforts of a hotel as you try to enjoy that well-deserved vacation. Recently, fraudsters have developed trickier methods to dupe hotel guests into forking over their credit card information.

It is best to learn how these criminals operate in order to avoid having to deal with a compromised credit card account.

Dummy Wi-Fi. Free wireless internet is an amenity offered by many hotels—making it easy for you to enter your room and connect to the hotel’s wireless network from your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

However, you may not actually be connecting to the hotel’s secure network. Instead, you may have simply clicked on a dummy Wi-Fi network called “Free Hotel Wi-Fi.” Little do you know, the network is a mobile hotspot set up by a cyber thief, who is using the connection to monitor your browsing activity and steal sensitive information.

To avoid falling victim to this trick, ask the hotel staff for the correct Wi-Fi network before logging on.

Fake restaurant flyers. Hungry and don’t want to pay for room service? Lucky for you, there are a few food flyers at the door, one offering delivery will arrive in less than 30 minutes. You call, place the order and provide your credit card number to pay for it. Then, an hour later, you’re still waiting on your food, but it never arrives.

Unfortunately, you responded to a phony flyer. The people on the receiving end of those calls were simply fishing for people to hand over their credit card information, which they can now use to make a string of fraudulent purchases.

A quick online search can help to ensure the legitimacy of the flyer, but it might be a good idea to ask the hotel staff about the restaurant before phoning in your order.

Phishing by phone. Your hotel phone rings and the person on the other end says the hotel’s computer systems are down and they need your credit card information again. You oblige over the phone and go back to bed. The next morning, as you head out, you ask the front-desk staff if the computer systems are back up since last night. They respond, “Our computer systems were never down.” And it hits you: You willingly provided your credit card information to a stranger over the phone.

Fraudsters are now calling hotel rooms directly and posing as hotel staff to deceive hotel guests, who don’t suspect other people can dial straight to their room’s telephone.

If you receive such a call, take a quick trip to the front desk to see if thieves attempted to steal your credit card information.

Simon Zhen is a columnist and staff writer for MyBankTracker.com, where he covers banking, financial technology and savings rates.