Fraudulent Marriott Calls & Starwood Data Breach

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Ever since the news broke about the merger between Marriott and Starwood, both companies have been undoubtedly busy behind the scenes with lots of work ahead of them to make things go as smoothly as possible. It doesn’t help that pesky things like phone scams and data breaches get in the way, either.

It seems like every month now there’s a notice from some company about how your personal data has been compromised or about a new scam. Today you can add two more to the list.

Marriott released a statement this morning about a phone scam they recently became aware of. It seems that some people around the world have received calls offering free nights at Marriott, which interests them enough to continue the phone conversation. The rest of the call has nothing to do with Marriott and undoubtedly no free nights are actually given out, though callers may be suckered into buying something else. Here’s the official statement from Marriott –

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I would be suspicious of anyone offering me a free night at a hotel unless there was a credit card signup involved. Certainly unsolicited calls are a red flag, but especially for some young/older folks the promise of a free Marriott hotel room night might make them think the call is legit and unwittingly spend more time/money than they would if they hadn’t heard the trusted name Marriott.

Starwood released their own statement today, about a Malware intrusion.

Malware is nasty stuff and it seems that some Starwood hotels in North America had their point of sale systems infected, which allowed scammers access to credit card details of the customers. According to the press release, the malware was detected at gift shops, restaurants, and “other” point of sale systems at properties.

Information that may have been stolen –

Cardholder name, complete credit card number, security code, and expiration date.

Starwood says there is no evidence that any PIN numbers or contact details were included in the breach.

After the investigation was completed, Starwood immediately took steps to add additional security measures and says malware is no longer a threat for customers paying at point of sale locations at Starwood properties.

Starwood is asking guests to review their credit card statements and contact their bank or card issuer if there is something out of the ordinary spotted.

Sounds pretty familiar, right? I’ve gotten similar emails from various banks and companies over the past few years.

What sets this data breach apart in my mind is the fact that Starwood has provided a webpage that lists each affected Starwood property and the dates of exposure.

The press release was just made this morning though, so when I click the link it takes me to a page that says “Coming Soon”.

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I’m not sure when the page will go live but you can always bookmark it and return later (which I’ll do because I’m curious). You can also call 1-855-270-9179 (US & Canada) or 1-512-201-2201 (Int’l) if you have additional questions.

Even if my card wasn’t involved in the breach, I like the transparency Starwood is offering by making the information about the properties where the breaches occurred available publicly.

As we head into the holidays, both of these hotel announcements serve as a good reminder for us all to be a little more cautious of deals that sound too good to be true and to watch our credit card statements carefully.

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    • Melinda

      The Value Traveler, I’m curious if it sounds like a scam right away or if it really seems like you’re talking with a legit company. Must be frustrating for Marriott (and I’m sure it wasn’t fun for you, either).

  1. Captain Kirk

    That Marriott scam has been going on for years. The Marriott Insiders website has posted on it several times to advise people it is a scam, as well as the press releases from Marriott you used in the article. It is a shame that so many people out there can’t make an honest living, they simply prey on people with scams and dishonesty. It’s truly disgusting.

    • Melinda

      Isn’t that the truth, Captain Kirk. I figure they’re either in dire straights and set aside their moral compass, or just don’t care to start with.

  2. John Stifler

    Thanks for posting. Found some people have also reported these Marriott scams since several days ago. The latest I can find is filed at just several hours ago. I think we need to just be cautious to any call comes from number we don’t recognize. Don’t immediately convinced with them. Don’t give any personal information.

    • Melinda

      That’s a good reminder for readers, John Stifler. Rarely (if ever) does someone legit call and ask for your personal info. The trouble is that most of us are so busy and stressed that if someone is smooth enough in the conversation and says all the right key words (ie Marriott) all of a sudden some details may get divulged that shouldn’t be.

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