Scammers hack Deer Lake Holiday Inn Express phone system to snag guest credit card numbers

Hotel manager says automated phone system removed until more secure one installed

This Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake was recently the target of a phone scam (Twitter/@MitchelmoreMHA)

A Deer Lake, N.L. hotel is reviewing its telephone system after recent incident where two guests were targeted by a phone scam.

This is a wake-up call to us, and it should be to all operators.’– Roseann Brake

Last week, staff at the Holiday Inn Express heard from guests in two separate rooms that they had received calls from someone claiming to be working on the front desk.

The caller then asked the guests to confirm their credit card information, saying there had been a problem when they swiped their cards during check-in.

Credit cards compromised

After initially giving out their information, the guests became suspicious and contacted the front desk agent — who confirmed the call had not come from the hotel after all.

“A caller somehow looped themselves through our automated telephone system and connected to a guest posing directly as a guest service agent,” said hotel manager Roseann Brake.

“I guess scammers are scammers and they try every direction they can, so somehow they’ve found a way to get in through our automated phone system.”

The RCMP says its investigating the scam phone calls to the Holiday Inn Express. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Moments later, the guests were contacted by their banks who advised that their credit cards had been used to make online purchases that were flagged as suspicious. In both cases, no funds were lost.

The RCMP has confirmed it is investigating the incident, and the hotel says it is working with its phone supplier and Bell Aliant to figure out what happened.

Wake-up call

Brake said the call system that was in place is a brand standard where typically no calls can reach a guest room without going through the front desk for verification. However, in this case someone was able to bypass the front desk and reach the rooms directly.

The hotel removed the automated phone system entirely on Tuesday, and until a more secure system is in place all calls to the hotel will be answered live by a front desk agent.

“This is a wake-up call to us, and it should be to all operators. No matter what you put in place day one, tests should be made on a daily basis,” brake said, adding that the hotel is now secure and shouldn’t be of concern to anyone looking for a place to stay.

“I don’t think people should be wary about staying with us. We have, as of today, corrected the issue.”

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show



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