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Hotel’s “Broken Computer” Credit Card Scam

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Someone tried to steal our credit card information a couple of hours ago. It was a pretty ingenious scam too. I'm hoping that you'll read this and share this story so that people won't fall for it like we almost did.

As I mentioned we are moving to Boston and we are stay at a Marriott Residence Inn as temporary housing until we establish a more permanent residence. (Side Note: Residence Inns are great, highly recommend them.) We got a call at 6AM this morning on the hotel phone. My wife picked up the phone. The person on the other line was from the front desk explaining that the computers were down and that they lost our room reservation. They'd need to get some information manually in order accept credit card payments. The questions involved all the typical things that a hotel might need to know for their reservation: name, billing address, and credit card number.

My wife offered to come down with this information, but the scammer was prepared for this. He said that the wait at the front desk was an hour or two. That's strong incentive to not get out of bed and go down to the front desk.

My wife said that the one thing that tipped her off was that the person spoke with a southern accent. In Boston, that's really rare. We'd been staying at the Residence Inn for about a week now and there is not an "R" to be pronounced by any of the staff (I mean that in a good way.)

What should have tipped her off (and what should tip you off) is that you should never give an financial information to anyone calling you. You always call them back, because then you know they are who they say they are. For instance in this case, we just insisted in going down to the lobby with the information. Of course the people at the front desk were surprised to learn that their computers were down (because they weren't) and our reservation was fine.

I inquired about how we'd go about catching this scammer and they didn't have any answers. They claimed that they had no way to trace phone calls coming into the room. I realize they might not have caller ID, but you'd think they'd call up their phone company and get the record. They said that they'd post a flyer warning the guests, but clearly the scammer can go on to another hotel in a another city and try again.

Last updated on April 7, 2013.

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3 Responses to “Hotel’s “Broken Computer” Credit Card Scam”

  1. oxide says:

    I remember a number of months back an article I read about top scams
    . One of which was Top Identify Theft Scam, very similar to your experience.

    I generally have a rule of thumb. The only time I ever provide personal information to someone is if I solicit that person. Someone calls me who sounds legit, too bad ;-).

    Glad your scam-guard was on high alert.

  2. Kosmo says:

    My tip off would have been that the front desk guy said there is a 1-2 hour wait at the front desk … and instead of waiting on those people, he’s taking the time to up other sleeping guest. Why not process the outstanding requests (people in line) first? There’s only so much capacity to handle the people.

    But that’s why they called at 6AM … hoping to wake people up and catch them before their brains were fully engaged for the day.

  3. […] Hotel’s “Broken Computer” Credit Card Scam – This is one of the most clever vishing scams that I’ve heard of. […]

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