Letters: Scam alert for tourism businesses

Weekly letters to the editor from within the Sooke community.

I thought you may be interested in this article presented this week from the BC Government Information Security Branch. This is happening around Victoria now, and Sooke B&Bs would be at risk too.

Businesses Beware Credit Card Fraud

http://www.bbb.org/vancouver-island/news-centre/bbb-warnings/2015/03/beware-credit-card-fraud/

The Better Business Bureau serving Vancouver Island is warning local businesses, specifically small lodging establishments, of a credit card scam targeting unsuspecting business owners.

In this scam, small hotel, motel and bed and breakfast operators are being sent an email from what appears to be a potential guest requesting accommodations or lodgings for a small group or family. The ‘guest’ may also request assistance in booking a rental car or acquiring other travel services. The ‘guest’ then pays for the accommodation, car and travel services in full via credit card. Very shortly after making payment, the ‘guest’ contacts the lodging facility to change the specifics of their reservation to accommodate less people and travel services. The ‘guest’ then requests for a refund to be made most typically by cheque, money wire and on occasion to another different credit card number.

The fraud occurs because the original credit card used to pay for the accommodation and travel services has been stolen. The small business ends up out of pocket the money that was ‘refunded’ to the fake guest and it is the business that is ultimately liable for the costs incurred from this fraud.

Although small lodging establishments are being targeted at the moment with this credit card fraud, any business that accepts credit card payment, especially over the phone or via the Internet is a potential victim of such scams. (see article for tips on how to avoid this type of scam).

Marn Williams

Sooke