URBANDALE, Iowa — Lori Miller thought she was scam-proof … but learned that wasn’t the case last weekend.
“They said that they were the manager of the hotel. They asked me if I had a nice stay and that they ran my card for essentials but the card wasn’t working right. There was a number missing. So, I gave them my number,” said Miller.
It’s not hard to guess what happened next. The person on the other end of the phone wasn’t the manager and Miller had just been scammed. The criminals started to rack up the charges. $40 in Alabama, then $50 more in Florida. In total, there were four charges with a sum of just over $150.
Miller says the scary part is that the caller knew her hotel room phone and knew her full name. “Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know how they knew my name,” said Miller.
Police are still working to figure that out, too. They’ve been in contact with the hotel and they’re cooperating with the investigation. Miller feels humiliated and ashamed that this kind of scam happened to her, but police say she shouldn’t be.
“She’s not alone. This happens all the time. In fact, we just dealt with a similar case yesterday involving a fraudulent phone call demanding money,” said Sgt. Chad Underwood with the Urbandale Police Department.
He said it’s common for criminals to do this because you’re likely to panic and just give up your information over. He does offer a few tips, though, and it starts with trusting your gut and keeping those numbers close if something feels off.
“All we do is encourage is stay vigilant with their credit information and to catch it. The sooner you catch it the better off you’ll be at getting your money back,” said Sgt. Underwood.
Lori’s bank got her money back and her account was frozen before too much damage was done. She’s learned her lesson and she knows what she’ll do the next that hotel phone rings. “Not give it to them and go to the front desk,” said Miller.