You can get scammed anywhere, even in a hotel you booked into – and this is the more reason you must ensure to protect your credit card details at all cost. Hotels are the targets of credit card frauds because majority of customers pay using credit cards, and it presents a haven where most customers lower their personal security consciousness because they see a hotel as a temporary home.
Identity thieves have devised a number of devious ways to access your credit card information without your knowledge, and in some cases, you get deceived into willingly submitting your credit card details to them thinking there were legit officials appointed to utilize your card details to serve your needs.
In February 2014, a study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research organization reported that nearly $13.1 million identity theft cases were reported in 2013, and this resulted into about $18 billion losses for individuals and corporate bodies. The hackers upgraded their method of stealing personal information from stealing credit card information to stealing who accounts, which resulted in about 28% of fraud cases reported for 2013.
In this case, they do not just steal your credit card details and max it out in unauthorized transactions, they dig into your online accounts and hack everything, changing account settings and passwords and then making purchases online in your name. This takeover fraud accounted for about $5 billion losses in 2013.
Here are 5 ways to protect your credit card details from being stolen by hackers and identity thieves targeting hotel customers:
i. Do not dictate your credit card information to anyone over the telephone
If you happen to receive a phone call to your hotel room saying that the hotel computer system is down and you need to provide your credit card information so that it might be fed again into the revived computer, just ask the caller that you’d call back. Then simply walk down to the front desk of the hotel lounge and ask from the front-desk officer if their computer is actually down and if they had called your hotel room asking for your card details. This way, you’d know if the earlier call emanated from your hotel front desk or from an outsider alleging to be a hotel management official.
ii. Be cautious about using free hotel Wi-Fi data connections
Do not make a connection if your mobile device detects a “Hotel Hotspot” or some “Free Hotel Wi-Fi connection” because scammers now create their own versions of these Wi-Fi technologies and use it to map your mobile device, stealing your personal details and credit card information. Do not fall into the hands of fraudsters who imitate the network of hotels by using “Hotel Hetspot” instead of “Hotel Hotspot,” it was not a typo, it was a scammer’s imitation to steal your card details. So ensure your firewall is up and running, your financial info is password-protected, your browser has security antivirus, and no malware programs on your computer before logging in your card details on any hotel websites.
iii. Be sure the hotel website URL has security features before booking
Be certain that a hotel’s website URL has the “https” at the beginning of the URL, and that there is a kind of lock visible before the URL address to indicate security before you enter the site to enter your card details. You sure don’t want to access a phishing site that is an exact replica of the website of your desired hotel, where you become a victim of “data harvesting.” These copycat websites steal email addresses and even send you phony emails asking you to update your personal information and credit card details on a “secured” website from which they harvest your data and use it to make purchases online.
iv. Be careful about product leaflets slipped under your hotel room door
Do not utilize product or restaurant flyers that you find outside or slipped underneath your hotel door, because calling the numbers on them might open you up to credit card fraud, where you are asked to place an order that would never arrive. Be also careful about receiving unsolicited leaflets or picking flyers from hotel lobbies because they might have been placed by scammers expecting you to call.
v. Retrieve your credit card after it has been swiped by the hotel front desk staff
You may not know this, but hundreds of customers forget retrieving their credit cards from front desk staff after it has been swiped on the machine, and this is quite dangerous because by the time you know it, your credit card has been maxed out and then thrown away. Then it will be your word against that of the front desk officer on where your credit card is. Do not be distracted to the point that you didn’t notice the clerk failed to return your car, and always ask for a receipt and also tear up copies of credit card slips.