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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Kim, who got a suspicious phone call in her room during a hotel stay:

I was working in my room at the Gaylord National Resort (a Marriott property), and I ordered room service for breakfast. After it was delivered, I got a phone call in my room (supposedly from the hotel) asking me how my breakfast was. They told me they had an issue with the way an employee placed my order, and that they needed my credit card information again.

It seemed a little fishy, but the caller knew my name, room number, that I had ordered breakfast and the exact amount that was charged to the room. I didn’t want to go downstairs to give them my card in person since I was working, so I gave the information over the phone. Within minutes, Amex was calling and texting about a suspected fraudulent charge for $211 to Hickory Farms.

I filed an incident report with the hotel, and they said they would get back to me in a few business days. The receptionist who helped me get security told me (unofficially) that it must have been an employee, since no one external could call my room directly. My credit card immediately detected the issue, so the impact could have been worse, but there had to have been others in the hotel who had the same misfortune. I feel stupid that I fell for this scam, but it was very convincing and I hope others will learn from my mistake.

The recent onslaught of data breaches and phishing scams can make the task of protecting your personal information feel Sisyphean. But with the growing odds that your data may be compromised through no fault of your own, it’s even more important to remain vigilant about safeguarding your accounts. The harder you make it for thieves to gain access, the less likely you are to be targeted, so basic security precautions are a must.

A good general rule is to never provide personal information to someone you don’t know in a conversation you didn’t initiate — that goes for email as well as phone calls. Scams like the one Kim encountered have been around for years in one form or another. The perpetrator may have been an employee in this case, but others have exploited weaknesses in hotel phone systems to make external calls seem like they’re coming from within the property. Payment questions should be handled exclusively at the front desk, and hotel staff should never call you to request sensitive information; any such request should immediately arouse suspicion.

On that note, it’s important to heed those suspicions. There’s a wide variety of scams out there, and sometimes it’s hard to see all the angles, but if your gut tells you something is off, listen.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Kim a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$595
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.