New Phone Scam Targets Vacationers in Hotel Rooms

Aug 21, 2014 6:53pm

What started off as a pit stop at a Best Western hotel in New Orleans  ended up as a major pitfall for Christine Bicek and her daughter, Katie Bicek.

“It’s about midnight and our hotel room phone rings,” said Christine Bicek of Houston. The voice on the phone claiming to be from the hotel’s front desk said, “I need your card number to put on file. Otherwise you need to get out of the room.”

GTY hotels mar 140821 16x9 608 New Phone Scam Targets Vacationers in Hotel Rooms

Erik Isakson/Getty Images

Katie Bicek gave the woman her debit card number and went back to sleep.

When Christine Bicek woke up, she said she immediately remembered the phone call and thought something seemed “sketchy.”

“I said to Katie, ‘You need to check your bank account,’” she said. Katie Bicek did and learned that all of her money was gone.

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With 34.7 million Americans predicted to be on the roads for the Labor Day weekend, according to AAA,  security experts are issuing warnings about schemes that target vacationers at their hotels.

It turns out that the scam that targeted Christine and Katie Bicek is a common one.

“We can identify the source of any phone call going in and and we identify these numbers,” said John McEnroe, assistant general manager at the Hotel Beacon in New York. “They were all outside numbers. Some of them were going through an Internet-service provider.”

The American Hotel and Lodging Association said: “The hospitality industry is not immune to unscrupulous activity. … [The industry] provides regular updates to hoteliers on fraudulent activities.”

The following are tips shared by Adam Levin of IDT911 Consulting when on vacation:

1. Once you are in the hotel room, don’t give your credit card information over the phone. If there’s a problem, go directly to the front desk.

2. Check in with a credit card instead of a debit card.

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