One in 500 million? How to Keep Your Info Safe after Marriott’s Breach
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Marriott announced a security breach affecting up to 500 million people. Hackers gained access to personal information such as a consumer’s full name, address, email, phone number, date of birth and passport number. Credit card numbers and expiration dates may have also been exposed in the breach. Marriott says the unauthorized access to their Starwood guest reservation database began in 2014. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is urging affected consumers to stay alert in protecting their information by doing the following:
- Watch out for phishing attempts. Asking for personal or sensitive information via a phone call, text or email is a tactic used by scammers. A fraudster may even use information taken from the Marriott breach to make their request seem more convincing. Never reply to texts, pop-ups or emails that ask for verification of personal information. Avoid clicking on links or attachments from suspicious emails or texts.
- Closely monitor your credit report and financial statements/accounts. Check all monthly statements and account activity, especially for financial accounts used for payment with Marriott hotels. You can obtain your FREE credit reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. Review your statements and credit report for unauthorized purchases/accounts and suspicious items.
- Consider a fraud alert and security freeze. Prevent scammers from opening new accounts using your information by placing a FREE fraud alert and/or security freeze on your credit reports. A fraud alert tells a business accessing your report to take extra steps to verify that you are the one seeking its goods/services. When a security freeze is in place, no one can access your report without your OK. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place an alert and contact each of them to place a freeze: Equifax (800) 685-1111, Experian (888) 397-3742 and TransUnion (888) 909-8872.
Marriott is sending emails to affected consumers and offering free monitoring services for one year. For more information on the breach, visit answers.kroll.com or call (877) 273-9481.
For additional tips on how to protect your information in the wake of a breach, check out these tips on how to avoid identity theft or contact SCDCA’s Identity Theft Unit. The Unit is dedicated to offering consumers tailored guidance on identity theft issues.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.