Warning: 5 Hotel Scams to Avoid

Audrey Fairbrother
June 21, 2013
Warning: 5 Hotel Scams to Avoid

Scammers often target the unknowing, and travelers typically know less about their surroundings than locals. This makes hotel visitors an easy target for scam artists.

But don’t get discouraged. Taking a few simple precautions from the list below can save you from becoming another victim.

1. Free WiFi scam: Scammers reportedly set up hotspots with labels impersonating hotel networks. They use programs to snag your username, password, and credit card info. The unassuming title of “Hotel WiFi” network may not be what it seems.

How to avoid it: Ask the front desk for the name of the official hotel WiFi network and only use this network.

2. Getting “walked” scam: You listened to our tips on saving on hotels and booked in advance, but when you arrived at your hotel you’re told they’re full. The staff asks you to switch to their sister property. They claim it’s the same quality. When You arrive, you notice it’s nowhere near as nice as what you originally paid for. This is called getting “walked.” Shady hotels use this practice to increase rates for lesser hotels. Luckily, it’s not common.

How to avoid it: Stand your ground at the front desk. Force the hotel to honor your reservation. Chances are they’ll find a way to fit you in.

3. Front desk phone call scam: You get a call from the supposed front desk saying their system shut down. They ask for your credit info again so they can charge you for the night. Don’t be fooled. Scammers have figured out how to dial your room directly.

How to avoid it: Never share your credit card information with someone who calls you (a good general practice). Walk down to the front desk and make all transactions in person.

4. Pizza flyer scam: Yes even pizza is now subject to a scam. That half-off coupon to a local pizzeria could cost more than you think. Crooks use these fake flyers to get guests to relay credit card info for a pizza that never gets delivered.

How to avoid it: Ask for restaurant suggestions from the front desk. They will steer you in the right direction.

5. Fake hotel booking site scam: There’s a reason that a $50/night, 5-star resort seems too good to be true–it doesn’t exist. You may think you’re getting a better deal by venturing to a lesser-known booking site, but it could be a scam. These fake websites are often created for events like the Olympics to trick tourists.

How to avoid it: Look for the SSL lock icon in the address bar, and Google “sitename.com reviews” and you’ll quickly see what people say about the site.


Luckily the majority of hotel experiences are still positive, but it never hurts to be aware of potentials scams so that you can spot them before you end up a victim.

Lastly, for a trusted hotel booking experience you can always try Hotel Engine.

Audrey Fairbrother
Article written by
Audrey Fairbrother
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine's audience and cultivating the company's brand voice.
Table Of Contents
Guy on his phone
Ready to save time and money on business lodging?
Join for Free
Share This Article: