Michelle Beech was staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Mobile last week.
“My phone in the hotel room rang about 9:30 and a professional sounding man started speaking as though he were down at the front desk and said, I’m sorry, our computer system has crashed and we’re having to manually re-enter the guest information and so we’re having to call everybody to get that,” says Michelle Beech.
Beech’s gut instinct told her something was fishy, so she asked if she could come down to the front desk and give her information there. The caller said no.
“And he had a really smooth answer that, ‘we’ll I’m at this office’,” says Beech.
She told the man he would not be getting her information, then hung up. Concerned, she then called the real front desk and reported it. Beech says he could easily fool someone else.
“He sounded like he’d done it a lot. He was very convincing, was very smooth, he had the rebuttals ready to go,” says Beech.
Some people almost expect to be scammed when they’re in their own home, however, police say even when you’re on vacation; don’t think that the scammers can’t reach you.
“Especially important if you’re on vacation, stay on guard because you’re traveling, you’re relying on your ability to utilize your credit or debit cards,” says Sgt. Joe Mahoney with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
And this isn’t the only kind of scam that can happen at a hotel.
“They’ll do things such as set up a free wifi in the parking lot. If you click on free wifi, all the information that you’re using on your computer, if you’re checking your banking account, sending emails, all that information is being intercepted. Uh, you’ll come back to your room after a long day, there’ll be a flyer for pizza and you’ll think to yourself, wow, I don’t feel like going out, let’s order this pizza. As soon as you call, give them your credit card information to them, they’ve got your information,” says Mahoney.
And Beech wants others to be on guard.
“If you have family members coming in to visit, it’s still summertime, you need to let all your guests who are coming in, staying in hotels be aware,” says Beech.
We talked with the manager at the hotel and he says they had just switched over to a new phone system when this happened. After the complaints, he called their phone guys and made sure it was changed so that no one is able to call directly to a hotel room whether they’re in another room or outside of the hotel.