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Tips for travelers after another Trump Hotels breach

Jay MacDonald

Have you been feeling a bit left out of all the hacking intrigue surrounding President Trump?

Count your blessings; guests to the 14 high-class lodgings owned by the Hotelier in Chief’s company have been targeted by a far more pedestrian strain of credit card hackers since well before Trump emerged triumphant in the November election. And much like his administration’s ongoing and unfolding Russian cyber revelations, details are just now emerging.

According to The Washington Post, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, which provides reservations services to Trump Hotels, notified the POTUS in June that hackers broke into their system last summer at Trump Soho in New York City.

The hack attacks continued at various Trump Hotel locations through early March, including a breach at Trump International in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, the day before the election. (Here is the complete list of Trump hotels affected by the breach, with relevant booking dates of affected reservations.)

Sabre said the hackers retrieved not only the credit card numbers and expiration dates, but also the names, addresses and phone numbers of guests who had used their centralized booking system. However, more sensitive guest data, including Social Security, passport and driver’s license numbers, was not compromised.

It wasn’t the first time the hotel giant has been hacked. Trump Hotels not only had its system breached by credit card hackers in July 2015 and early 2016, but was fined $50,000 for waiting months to notify customers. More recently, Sabre said its systems at Trump Central Park, Trump Chicago, Trump Las Vegas and Trump DC were breached by card hackers between November 2016 and March 2017.

Little wonder that hackers would target the upscale Trump properties, a favorite home away for A-List celebrities, CEOs, political dignitaries and moneyed vacationers who find themselves in Miami, Toronto, Vancouver, New York City, Waikiki, Rio de Janeiro, Panama, Ireland or Scotland.

Sadly, your card faces the same data risks at less luxurious lodging, as has been illustrated by recent hacks to Holiday Inn, Starwood, Marriot, Hyatt and others. Further, other hotels affected by the Sabre data breach included 21 Loews Hotels and 11 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino properties.

Fight the hackers
How can you protect what’s in your wallet from hotel hackers? Here are some key ways to protect your plastic when traveling:

  • Pick a card or two: You have no control over whether hackers will compromise the hotel at which you’re staying, but you can limit the damage they might cause you by bringing one card, two if you must, rather than the handful you carry daily. However, be sure to choose the card(s) most likely to be accepted and/or earn rewards points where you’re headed.
  • Leave your debit card at home: Not only do credit cards have your back in a hack far better than their debit cousins, but you won’t have to worry about anyone zeroing-out your checking account.
  • Pack your passwords: If you’re not in the habit of checking your card balances, be sure to write down your user names and passwords and check to make sure they work before you leave home.
  • Monitor your account(s): Your phone may be preferable to the hotel’s public Wi-Fi for a daily account check online, or call your card’s 800 number to check your balance.
  • Activate text alerts: With texts, you’ll know simply by picking up your phone if someone is tapping your account.

A few steps can go a long way to protect your data – whether you live in the White House or not.

See related: Startups use tech to put cardholders in charge of security, Think fast! Who should you call when fraud strikes?

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