Here's what you can do to protect yourself from the Marriott hack.
If you stayed at any one of the Marriott International Inc.’s Starwood properties since 2014, you might be among the 500 million guests whose personal information has been scooped up by hackers and scam artists.
Consumers who think they’re at risk have several steps they can take to protect themselves, and Marriott is offering assistance, as well.
The data hack affects customers of Marriott’s Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide unit, which Marriott acquired in 2016, including properties operating as Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, Le Méridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, St. Regis, Element, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, and Design Hotels.
Marriott announced the data breach on Nov. 30, saying it was discovered in September. The statement added that for about 327 million of these guests, the hacked information includes some combination of:
- Your name, gender, or date of birth
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Passport number
- Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information
- Travel information including arrival and departure information and reservation date
Some of the payment information was encrypted but Marriott hasn’t ruled out that the tools needed to decrypt those numbers weren’t also stolen. For other guests, Marriott said, the breached data was limited to a name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address or other details.
Steps to take to protect yourself
In response, Marriott has established a special call center – (877)-273-9481 in the United States – as well as a dedicated website here, and is emailing notifications to those guests for whom the hotel chain has information. Marriott said it also is giving potential victims the option at no charge to enroll for a year in a service called Webwatcher, which monitors internet sites where personal information is shared and alert consumers if their personal information is found.
If you suspect that your personal information has been stolen in this incident or any other, you can check other steps to secure your information here, in this guide from the Experian credit bureau. In addition, you may want to:
Notify your bank and creditors: You have two days after your discovery of a bogus credit card or ATM charge to notify your bank if your account or ATM card has been compromised, which will limit your liability to $50. After that, your liability rises to $500 for up to 60 days and to an unlimited amount after that. You have more protection with your credit cards, where your liability will be $0 to $50. Nonetheless, you should notify your card issuers right away.
Put a fraud alert on your credit: Notify any one of the three major credit bureaus, and you’ll automatically get a 90-day fraud alert placed on all your credit histories. You can place an extended fraud alert on your accounts after you file reports with the police and Federal Trade Commission. You can also consider a credit freeze, which blocks new credit from being taken out in your name, and now is free under federal law.
Report it: Call the Federal Trade Commission at 1 (877) 438-4338, then go to the FTC website and complete the ID theft complaint and affidavit forms. Print out copies for your records and keep them. The FTC report should be enough in most cases; however, if your data was stolen in a physical theft – a purse-snatching, from your car, home or mailbox – you may want to file a report with your local police department, to help you dispute any fraudulent charges or shut down new credit lines.
You can find a step-by-step guide to reporting ID theft from the Federal Trade Commission:
Send those reports out: You should send copies of the FTC and local police reports to your creditors, the credit-reporting bureaus, and keep copies on hand to protect yourself.
- TransUnion. P.O. Box 6790. Fullerton, CA 92834; phone: 800-916-8800
- Experian. P.O. Box 9530. Allen, TX 75013; phone: 888-397-3742
- Equifax. P.O. Box 740241. Atlanta, GA 30374; phone: 866-349-5191
Brian J. O’Connor is the author of the award-winning budgeting book, “The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese.”
If you want to protect your data to avoid identity theft, check out Debt.com’s identity theft protection tool. It’s free for the first 30 days.
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Article last modified on December 6, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Don't Let The Marriott Data Breach Put You In Heartbreak Hotel - AMP.