On November 30th Marriott, released a report that an “unauthorized party” breached their system and gained access to information of up to 500 million Starwood customers. Starwood hotel brands include Westin, Sheraton, W hotels, Aloft, St. Regis and more.
Marriott said the information gained included personal information such as passwords, email addresses, names, dates of birth, home addresses, and even passport numbers. For millions, credit cards were compromised. With this information in hand, your identity could be stolen and credit cards and loans can be opened in your good name.
What you can do to protect yourself from a data breach
Check for Marriott communications via email, but be suspicious too
Marriott is emailing guests who were affected and had given their email addresses to the hotel chain. But watch out for phishing scams that could impersonate Marriott through fake emails and ask for more information. What you should do: type the Marriott website directly into a web browser instead of clicking any link in the email you might receive.
Regularly review your bank and credit statements
Check your account statements for strange activity. If you do become a victim of fraud be sure to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. Also, alert your bank and or credit card company.
Freeze your credit
Credit freezes stop anyone from opening up a new line of credit using your name until you lift the freeze. Unless you’re actively using your credit, like negotiating a mortgage or applying for a credit card or car loan, you should freeze your credit prevent ID theft. Learn more about the implications by contacting the credit bureaus
Use a password manager and change it plus consider using a password manager
Passwords may have been part of the potentially stolen data, so if you’re a Starwood member change your password now. Consider using a password manager, LastPass or 1Password are two services that can make dealing with all the passwords you have easier and more secure.
Minimize or avoid saving credit card information on websites
Experts suggest avoid saving credit card information on websites where you can. An alternative is to use Paypal, Google pay or Apple Pay.
Limit the amount of information you share
If the requested information on a form is not mandatory, elect not to share it.
Add two-factor authentication to all your accounts
Starting with your email and main social media accounts, you should add two-factor authentication to any account that offers it. This is an additional layer of security that texts or generates a temporary password on your smartphone to make sure it is you accessing the account.
Enroll in online monitoring
Starwood is offering a free year’s worth of credit monitoring in case your personal information shows up on the black market. Check with Marriott’s website regarding this program.
Passport numbers are not a big risk
Marriott revealed that some customers also had their passport numbers exposed. According to the National Passport Help Desk, you shouldn’t worry about this too much as long as you still physically have your passport.