Hotel chain Marriott announced a massive data breach last week affecting 500 million hotel guests. The breach affects customers who made reservations at Marriott or Starwood properties between 2014 and September 2018, during which time hackers had unauthorized access to a private database. Marriott acquired Starwood properties in 2015 which includes hotel brands such as W Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, Westin Hotels, and more.
The breached database held guest info such as names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, birthdates, arrival and departure information, and communication preferences. At this point, Marriott is unsure if payment card information was affected.
What should you do?
In response, Marriott is offering affected customers a free year of WebWatcher which monitors the Internet for your personal information. In addition to this program, you should freeze your credit if you have not done so already. Thanks to a federal law passed in September, you can freeze your credit for free at all three of the big credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If you used your Marriott or Starwood password for any other account, be sure to change those passwords immediately.
If you have not already, sign up for text alerts on the credit card you used at Marriott. Text alerts will notify you anytime a charge is made. This is a good way to monitor your credit card for fraudulent purchases. You can set up these alerts with your credit card company directly.
Also be on the lookout for phishing emails. Scammers may create fake messages appearing to be from Marriott to gain more of your personal information. Marriott has stated that any legitimate emails will not contain any attachments or requests for information.