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Avoid these scams when you are staying at a hotel.

Staying in a hotel can be a luxurious getaway for most; you have room service, someone to clean your room and make your bed each day, little pillow mints. Unfortunately, staying at a hotel is not always fun and games. Before you check in, be aware of these five hotel scams and keep your holiday on track

Do not fall for the faux front desk

This scam is definitely not a new one, but it is still just as problematic. After you have checked in to your room, normally in the middle of the night, the hotel’s ‘front desk’ calls you saying there has been an issue with your credit card, and they ask you to repeat the card number and information so they can re-run it. But of course, it is not really the front desk calling, but rather a scammer who is fishing for your credit card information.

What to do: The number one is rule is to never give out your credit card number over the phone. Therefore, if this happens to you, ask to speak with the manager, or simply hang up and call the front desk yourself to verify something is wrong. If there does happen to be an issue, head to the front desk and clear up any problems in person.

Watch out for getting ‘walked’

Getting ‘walked’ is definitely a scam, and unfortunately one that hotels continually get away with. What happens is when you arrive at your hotel, you are told the hotel is overbooked and the room you reserved is no longer available. In order to make up for the mistake, rather than being reimbursed, you are offered accommodation at another property that the hotel claims is comparable quality. Unfortunately, since many guests do not have another option and need to find a place to stay, they accept the new accommodations. The only trouble is, the hotel you are being relocated to, is not even close in value to the hotel you have paid for. As a result, the original hotel covers the new accommodations, but rather than paying an equal cost, the hotel puts a guest up in a room that costs must less, allowing them to make a profit of your supposed misfortune.

What to do: If this happens, do not immediately agree to the alternative hotel. Instead, remind the hotel that you have a guaranteed reservation, in hopes the mistake is magically cleared up. However, if the hotel insists they no longer have room for you, spend some time finding a new room to stay in at another hotel and ask for a full refund, rather than letting the hotel relocate you.

Be aware of ‘beach-front’

Many hotel rooms claim to be beachfront, or have waterside views, but to your disappointment you arrive at your destination to find the seaside hotel you booked is in fact not ‘right on the water’ as it had claimed and your waterfront views are of the water-filled pool, or even worse, a busy highway. Frequently, this same scam occurs with ‘airport hotels’ that are, in fact, nowhere near the hotel.

What to do: Avoid falling for misleading advertising by verifying your hotel’s claims for yourself before you book online. Type in the address into online tools such as Google Earth for a real-life view of the location. It is also important to use trustworthy booking sites, and if possible, book your room directly through the hotel’s website or on the phone to avoid any false claims on third-party websites.

Do not deal with fake hotel representatives

Similar to the taxi scam, where con artists pose as taxi drivers and then take off with your luggage, this scam involves fake hotel representatives. These false hotel reps look for tourists as they get off the plane, train, boat or bus and offer them deals on hotel rooms. These scammers often appear authentic as many of them wear badges or carry a clipboard of hand out brochures. However, sometimes these hotel rooms do not exist and you give a stranger your credit card information, or you get to the hotel and the low-price you were promised is no longer available. As a result, you must pay a might higher rate in order to stay.

What to do: You are always better off to make your hotel reservations over the phone or online, and then confirm the rates with your credit card company to make sure you were charged the correct amount. However, if you do arrive at a destination without a booked room, look for the nearest official tourist information office, often located in theairport or train station. Your best bet is to always avoid the lone representative.

Look out for the parking valet

It may seem like a wonderful amenity, not having to worry about parking your own car and getting door to door service, but parking valets have been known to steal valuables from the vehicles they are moving. Sometimes, many travellers assume their car is moved into the hotel lot or parking garage, when many hotels do not have such facilities and your car could get parked on the street. If the parking metre runs out, or the car gets towed, or even worse—damaged, the owner is stuck with the ticket and the cost.

What to do: Be cautious of what you leave behind in your car. Make sure you take your wallet, cell phones and any other valuables with you, or hide them inside the vehicle so the valet does not seem them when he is parking your car. Also, always be sure to ask where it will be parked, and the exact location of the parking garage or separate lot. That way, you can always deny valet and find a safer spot yourself if you are not pleased with where they plan to move your vehicle to.

Scams can easily take the fun out of your holiday, and they unfortunately happen more often than expected. Make sure to purchase travel insurance that covers your valuables and offers cancellation benefits so you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind, even if you do fall victim to a scam.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Prayitno; cropped from original