There is apparently a new hotel scam moving through the industry. The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) is alerting people to a new way to separate hotel clients from their credit card information. An ARTA travel agent was staying at a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in the Denver area recently.

She was awakened by a phone call late at night by a man claiming that he was calling from the front desk. The caller apologized for the midnight call and said the office was trying to transmit the credit cards of the guests who had checked in that day to their central office. He said the numbers had to be in by 1 a.m. He then asked for the guest’s credit card details. She said no. The caller said they could send someone up to the room to get the details and again the agent refused, ending the call and hearing nothing further.

The next day the travel agent was told by the front desk that although the call probably did originate from somewhere in the hotel, it was a scam by people trying to steal credit card numbers, and that several other hotels had reported similar incidents.

So, take that information and keep your credit card numbers safe. It is easy to be scammed when the scam seems logical.

Another change in the hotel industry that may or may not spread is the use of an inter-hotel bad guest list. The technology was conceived up by Bristol, U.K., businessman Neil Campbell, 59, after his neighbor, a B&B owner, suffered at the hands of a “visitor from hell.”

In the United Kingdom, some 10,000 small hotels and bed and breakfasts are expected to sign up for the GuestScan Network that lists problem hotel guests — a hotel blacklist, so to speak. Guests who damage rooms, skip town without paying the bill, steal items from the rooms or make too much noise will be flagged and listed on GuestScan. The names can stay on the list for between two and four years.

Privacy groups specializing in protecting scoundrels (OK, non-scoundrels as well) have been in an uproar. They claim that the list will contain more identifying information than is allowed under current law and that the company has been formed under false pretenses.

Despite the outcry from the privacy pressure groups and caution from the legal sector the initiative has gained the backing of Devon and Cornwall Police where tourism is a mainstay of the local economy.

Bob Bunny the force’s Crime Reduction Advisor said GuestScan should be praised for it’s potential to reduce crime.

He said: ”GuestScan has the intention of providing a beneficial service direct to those in business, but it also has the potential to assist in the prevention and detection of crime.

”Any service that can contribute to preventing crime, benefit business and the community can only be considered advantageous to policing.”

Do you think we will see a similar system here in the U.S.? Or, maybe, there is already one in operation that I don’t know about. Chime in.