Ada and I have become all too familiar with points and miles fraud. Last month a friend of ours noticed 1,000 points were missing from his loyalty rewards account. While he was eventually able to recover the stolen points, the incident opened our eyes to the possibility of points and miles fraud. Since then, we’ve spent time researching different ways to keep our hard-earned points and miles safe from hackers. ''Fraudsters are increasingly targeting hotel, airline and other #loyalty accounts. Here’s how to stay protected.''Click To Tweet
The good news is, although fraudsters have grown more sophisticated in recent years, proper precautions can keep your airline, hotel and other loyalty accounts safe from even the most advanced fraudsters. Here are four tips that can help you guard against points and miles fraud.
Keep an eye out for phishing emails
One way fraudsters try to get their hands on points and miles is by sending unsolicited emails that prompt loyalty program members to either download an attachment containing a virus or update their account information through a fraudulent website. Since phishing emails often resemble those you might receive from an airline or hotel loyalty program, it’s easy to click on them without thinking twice.
Protect your personal information by hovering your mouse over any link included in an email from an airline or hotel loyalty program. If the link leads you to a website that has nothing to do with the content of the email, chances are it’s fake. Not sure whether to trust an email? Contact your loyalty program to double check where the email came from.
Improve your password
A password is often the first obstacle between your airline or hotel loyalty account and hackers. From adding numbers and characters to capitalizing random letters, take steps to ensure your password isn’t one hackers can easily guess. If you have too many passwords to remember, try using a free password manager such as LastPass. By storing your passwords all in one place, password managers enable you to create and use unique passwords for each of your airline and hotel loyalty accounts. In the event one of your accounts is hacked, you won’t have to worry about whether or not a fraudster has access to a handful of your online accounts.
Steer clear of public Wi-Fi
It’s tempting to hop on public Wi-Fi when you have some time to kill in an airport or hotel. But while public Wi-Fi may be convenient, it’s also risky. Hackers can quickly gain access to a public Wi-Fi network, especially if it’s unsecured. One way you can protect your loyalty accounts from hackers on public Wi-Fi is by adding a mobile hotspot to your cell phone data plan. Once it’s added you’ll be able to create a private internet connection wherever you are on the road.
Downloading a virtual private network (VPN) can also help you stay out of the reach of hackers. For just a few dollars a month, VPN software on your phone or computer can encrypt any data you send or receive over a public Wi-Fi network.
Sign up for identity theft protection
Airline and hotel chains know identity theft protection is an important part of the fight against fraud. That’s why they’re offering points and miles to loyalty members who take the first step to protecting their identity. American Airlines AAdvantage program members who enroll with LifeLock using the promo code “AA3” can earn 30 days of free identity theft protection service, 10 percent off their lifetime membership and up to 7,000 miles. The same goes for Hilton HHonors members who sign up for LifeLock.