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Hackers target passwords and loyalty cards

Hackers target passwords and loyalty cards

Beware: Cyber crooks apparently are now eyeing the loyalty cards dangling on our key fobs. I received a “Security Update” last week via e-mail regarding the rewards program that I signed up for several years ago at Toys R Us. Given all the scams, I wondered whether this notice was some kind of trick. But it was legitimate. My worn-out Toys R Us rewards card — which has been used for birthdays, holidays and just-because-we’re-out-together shopping days — seems to be valuable to crooks.usa-crime-blackshades-hackers

We’re seeing more warnings that cyber crooks will go after whatever moves — or has a password that you might use somewhere else. “They’re willing to hack into anything where they can get anything of value for nothing,” said Adam Levin. Going forward, consumers could be hearing more about rewards points hacks. Late last year, American Airlines and United Airlines began notifying customers through e-mails that hackers stole usernames and passwords from a third-party source. Some customers lost miles as a result.

Hilton Honors loyalty program warned last year that hackers managed to access some accounts and cash out some rewards points. Some members had reported points being used to buy merchandise, according to the Loyalty Lobby blog. Who would have ever imagined this one? We’ve heard of hacking to get our Social Security numbers to file fake income tax returns that cook up extra rich refunds. We’ve heard of hacking for our credit card data at stores like Target and Home Depot.

But our rewards points? Sorry, maybe I’m a little naïve, but initially I couldn’t see why some con artists would want my points to load up on boxes of Lego Bionicles. After thinking about this, of course, I realize that the crooks would probably figure out a way to load up on Microsoft Xboxes to sell on the black market. If your key ring is anything like mine, you’re carrying around all kinds of rewards points, too. I’ve got 21 fobs on my key ring alone, including Rite Aid, Panera, Hallmark, Kroger, Blockbuster (why do I still carry that one?), Petco, CVS, PetSmart and Godiva.

We’re willing to give away some personal information to get those ever-important discounts. At Godiva, I get one free truffle a month. Why wouldn’t I give away my e-mail and address? Almost without blinking, I joined another loyalty program just last weekend at a shoe store that I’m unlikely to visit all that much in the future. But, hey, I wouldn’t mind the catalogs and an extra discount in the month of my birthday.


November 2017
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