Better Business Bureau: Hotel Guest Scam

July 9, 2011 at 2:09 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

The Better Business Bureau is alerting tourists and others of a scam that is plaguing hotels and their guests. Scammers are obtaining credit card information from hotel guests over the phone. The calls are typically made in the middle of the night. The caller indicates they are a hotel employee, and the hotel computer system has crashed. In order to complete the hotel audit, they must have your credit card number. These callers are very convincing, and many hotel guests fall for this scam. If you own or work at a hotel, please alert your hotel guests of this scam, and if you are a hotel guest, remember not to provide credit card information over the phone during your stay. If there is ever a problem with billing, the hotel staff will handle it at the front desk, not by phone.

Jamaican scammers

This past week, we received a call from a lady who lives in the Coastal Bend. She had received a call from someone claiming to be representing the BBB. The caller claimed she had won $2.5 million and needed to send BBB $450 for fees and taxes. The victim went to the post office and sent a postal money order to the schemers (bye, bye $450). Two days later, another "BBB" person called and said she also had won a new car and they needed another $199. This act of calling a scam victim a second time is known as "reloading." By now, the lady realized this was all a scam. She reported to us that the callers had heavy accents and she gave us their phone number. The area code showed the calls were made from Jamaica. It's just another reminder that these scams that we always are talking about continue to victimize Coastal Bend consumers, and remember the BBB does not give money away.

Business review ratings

As you know for the past several years BBB has included ratings in its business reviews. Ratings run from A+ to F. Note that BBB accreditation (membership) has nothing to do with ratings. We have a large number of companies with A+ ratings that are not accredited. How do we determine the rating? The algorithm is complex. Some 80 percent of the rating is based on how the company handles complaints, if any. The formula allows for the size of the company since a small company would be expected to have fewer complaints than a large company. Other factors include the length of time the company has been in business and whether BBB has adequate information on the company's operations, ownership and can verify any required licensing, etc. Our business reports are available at Thanks to our accredited businesses, all of our services are free to the public.

Confusing advertising

Dealership advertising is an important element in the sale of cars. Unfortunately, some advertising is not clear. Here are two vehicle dealer advertising statements that may confuse consumers:

"No matter what you owe, we will pay off your trade-in." This gives consumers the idea that the dealer will give them what they owe for their old car. In reality, the dealer means if they obtain credit approval, they add the negative equity to the consumer's new loan. No. 2:

"All Credit Applications Accepted." Consumers believe their loan will be approved, but all this says is that the dealer will accept the application, not necessarily that it will be approved by any lender.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at



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