Data breaches are unfortunately becoming more commonplace with each passing day. And not small attacks, mind you, but massive breaches affecting hundreds of millions of people.
This year has seen several such attacks, from British Airways, Canada Air and Cathay Pacific to the Raddison Hotel group. The latest target, announced late last week, occurred at the Marriott-Starwood hotel chain. This massive breach compromised the information of around 500 million guests who made reservations at their Starwood properties. Check those specific properties by clicking here.
Have you stayed at a Marriott property within the last few years? If so, your information may have been stolen. With any breach involving your information, the best course of action is to take immediate steps to help mitigate the situation. And in this case, there's a free service that can alert you if your exposed data is being used fraudulently.
A free way to monitor your personal information
For about 327 million out of the 500 million people impacted by this latest breach, the stolen information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender and other personal information and travel specifics. And for some, payment card numbers and expiration dates were compromised. That's a whole lot of information that could be used against you.
That's why Marriott is offering guests the opportunity to enroll in a service called WebWatcher for free, for one year. The site monitors and analyzes sites where your personal information could be used, and alerts you to any activity.
Bonus tip: Traveling? 5 ways to not get hacked
It's being made available to Marriott guests in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In addition, the U.K. Marriott says guests from the U.S. who enroll in WebWatcher will also be provided with other services for free, including fraud consultation services and reimbursement coverage.
To sign up for the service, visit this page set up by Marriott International.
Other steps you can take
You may have already received an email from Marriott if they believe your information was impacted. The company also set up a website for additional information and a dedicated call center to answer any questions you might have about the breach. Visit the Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident FAQ page here, or call (in the U.S.) 877-273-9481.
If you haven't already, change your password. And hopefully you don't use the same password for all your online accounts. If so, change those passwords as well. Need help coming up with new passwords and managing your online logins? Check out these tips.
Check your credit report or sign up for a credit monitoring service that will notify you of any changes with your credit. To play it extremely safe, you might even consider freezing your credit altogether if you have no plans to open new credit card accounts or apply for loans anytime soon.
And for this breach or any previous incidents, you can also check out the site have i been pwned? to see if your email addresses have been compromised.
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