Police warn of hotel-related scam

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Police Department is warning those staying in hotel rooms to be wary of a telephone identity theft scam.

Through the scam, the scammer calls the hotel’s main desk and asks to be put through to a room number. If a person answers in the hotel room, the scammer then claims to be calling from the front desk and asks the person in the hotel room to verify their credit card number and security code.

The scammer then uses the credit card information to make fraudulent purchases, said Pelham Police Capt. Larry Palmer.

Palmer said it is easy to believe the scammer is actually calling from the front desk.

“The thought that goes through the person’s mind is ‘What are the chances anyone but the front desk would know I’m staying in this room and that I paid with a credit card?” Palmer said.

Scammers often call during the nighttime hours when they know it will be inconvenient for the person in the hotel room to walk to the front desk to verify the situation.

“The caller will say ‘This is so-and-so with the front desk. I’m sorry to wake you up, but your credit card didn’t go through and if you can read the information to me, I can save you a trip down to the desk,’” Palmer said.

Palmer said the scam has been reported at Pelham hotels and by Pelham residents staying in hotels in other cities.

“If you are conducting business on the phone, you need to take steps to be sure you know who you are talking to,” Palmer said. “Take down the caller’s information, verify it through another means and tell them you’ll call them back.

“Or in this case, just throw some clothes on and go down to the front desk,” Palmer said.