Watch out for hackers who steal your rewards

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Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 07:24:36-05

During the last few years, many of us have come to expect that our credit or debit cards could get hacked. But criminals are increasingly going after rewards from frequent-flyer or retailers’ loyalty programs.

The schemes are carried out in number of ways. The scammer hacks into a retailer’s database, capturing a series of numbers that are printed on our rewards certificates. They then use these numbers to redeem the certificate online before we have a chance to try to use it for ourselves. The scammer resells what they have purchased with our rewards online, turning these rewards into cash. Scammers might also hack into accounts that we have set up online for airlines or retailers, and steal any rewards that may be sitting in our accounts. And, they may use these accounts to hack into other accounts, assuming that some of us use the same login or passwords for more than one account.

If you are storing rewards online, use a unique password for your account and change it frequently. Consider using two-factor authentication to make it harder for a criminal to hack your account. Pay attention to unusual e-mails alerting you of changes made to your account or orders that you did not place. And, try to redeem these miles and rewards as soon as possible, before a scammer tries to redeem them first.

If you lose miles or reward incentives, you may be able to get help. But, keep in mind, fraudulent reward redemptions work differently than fraud on a credit card, and there may not be the same legal protections for getting these rewards back. However, it is worth a try to contact the airline or retailer immediately to report the problem and ask for these rewards to be reinstated. It might also be a good idea to report it to police. If you run into a challenge, contact our Call 4 Action office for assistance.