Theft is nothing new, but the ways crooks are stealing things in the digital age can be truly surprising. Cybercrime is evolving every day as hackers develop advanced techniques to pilfer our personal accounts and financial information. One way they’re doing this is through loyalty point theft.
Loyalty point theft is easy money for cybercriminals since consumers do not keep close tabs on their earned airline miles or hotel point in the same way they watch their bank accounts.
To make things even worse, frequent flyer miles and other loyalty program points are essentially unregulated currency, with a total value larger than the GDP of some small countries. Meaning they are as good as money and can be used to purchase electronics, groceries, gift cards and much more. Often consumer points are stolen and resold on the dark web for a fraction of the price. Believe it or not, even mobile gaming virtual currencies are being targeted!
Thankfully there are ways to protect your loyalty points against malicious hackers. Review some of the suggestions below to see how you can boost your cybersecurity and keep your points out of the hands of cyber crooks.
A Few Pointers to Keeping Yours
Don’t Get Hooked: It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book and still one of the most effective. Phishing scams are regularly used to loot account information such as email addresses and passwords. Consumers are tricked into sharing their password and sign-in credentials through bogus login pages or spam emails asking them to divulge personal information.
Improve Your Passwords: Your spouse’s name and birthday aren’t enough to protect your cybersecurity against savvy hackers. While your clever password might not be guessed by friends or coworkers, it’s no match for automated brute force attacks which can decode passwords through trial and error. Instead of using weak passwords, use more complicated passphrases to protect your points.
Check Yourself: As mentioned before, most people don’t keep close track of their mileage or hotel points in the same way as their credit or checking accounts. This is why loyalty point theft often goes undetected for weeks or even months. Sadly, many consumers are unaware of the theft until it’s time to book that next vacation. Not to mention that, if you are unaware of how many points you have, how can you be sure of how many points you’ve lost? Remember to check your points regularly.
Contact Your Provider: Should you not have any loyalty point theft protection, it’s best to contact your credit card, airline, hotel or point provider as soon as you know you’ve been targeted. Many companies will refund your points if they are stolen (but not all, so be sure to read the terms of agreement). The provider will also be able to tell you if your account has been compromised in other ways.
Protect Your Identity: Loyalty plans are great, but they can heighten the risk of identity theft. Some hackers will take the damage further when accessing your account by stealing your credit card numbers, name, address, email, contacts and in some cases, even your social security number. Yikes! This is why it is absolutely vital to protect your information from the get go.
Spread Awareness: Plenty of people use loyalty points yet are unaware of the threat posed by black hat hackers. Cybercriminals thrive in our blind spots, which is why it is so important to spread awareness about online protection.
Hopefully these tips have inspired you to work harder to defend your cybersecurity. Remember that hackers, for the most part, aim for easy targets. By educating yourself about online consumer best practices, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of digital theft.