Hotels.com Breach and Customer Phishing
The recent Hotels.com security breach is yet another reminder to people everywhere that even the most reputable sites may become the targets of hackers, scam artists and phishers. Hotels.com is owned by Expedia and is one of the top booking sites for travelers seeking accommodations. In the recent phishing scam, travelers who booked hotels on the site became victims.
How Did The Hotels.com Breach Happen?
It remains unclear how the phishing scam artists accessed the site. However, tech experts are still investigating the incident. The phishers managed to obtain the email addresses, phone numbers, names and travel booking information of a large number of Hotels.com customers. Scam artists contacted customers and pretended to represent Hotels.com or the actual hotels where customers had made travel reservations. With a variety of false claims, they were able to obtain sensitive information about their unsuspecting victims.
What Should Hotels.com Customers Do?
While the total number of affected travelers is still unknown, anyone who booked a reservation with Hotels.com recently should avoid taking action after reading an email or receiving a text message asking for additional personal information. When receiving such an email from any third-party company or a direct service provider, it is best to look up the phone number for the customer service department of the company or hospitality establishment. Contact the company directly to inquire about the authenticity of the communication attempt.
One of the biggest concerns people have following a security breach is whether their financial information is compromised. In addition to ruining a trip, financial data in the wrong hands can ruin a person's credit for several years. The PR Manager for Expedia and Hotels.com emphasized that no credit card information was compromised during the recent security breach. The manager also said that all affected customers received an email from the Hotels.com outlining the steps they should take to protect themselves.
Anyone who travels for business or leisure should always be aware of possible scams. The Hotels.com security breach was only one of many security breaches in the hotel industry in recent years. The company tasked with managing major hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton was the victim of major security breaches in both 2013 and 2014. In those incidents, customers' credit card information was leaked along with security codes and expiration dates of cards.
How To Avoid Phishing Scams
Travelers should be wary of any communications and the possibility of data breaches. Always keep contact information updated for any credit cards or debit cards used for traveling. When changing a phone number or primary email address, contact the company to update the changes. If there is a suspicious transaction, most credit card companies and banks will contact the account holder to notify him or her of the incident.
It is also important to take steps to avoid phishing scams online. The Hotels.com security breach is a good reminder of this. Personal information privacy should be a top priority for every individual or company. There are three simple ways to avoid phishing scams. Never click unknown links in emails or on Internet sites. Always use a spam protection program, and do not provide personal information online. This is not always possible for people who rely on their computers or smart phones to book travel or make purchases. With phishing scam artists developing more sophisticated schemes these days, the ideal option is to use a program such as Netlok that provides total online security. Members are safe from hackers with a secure data storage locker, protected communications and a hacker-proof system for passwords.