Scam of the day – April 7, 2016 – Trump hotels hit again by apparent data breach

In July and  October of 2015 I reported to you about a massive data breach at the Trump Hotel Collection, which involved hotels in Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York that had gone for as long as a year before it was discovered.   Now as first reported by Brian Krebs,  Trump hotels in New York, Hawaii and Ontario, Canada apparently were hit with data breaches of their credit and debit card processing systems again.  As so often is the case in data breaches such as this, banks identified a pattern of fraudulent credit and debit card use that they  traced back to the affected Trump hotels.  The Trump Hotel Collection is presently investigating the apparent data breach.

Following the Trump hotels data breach of last year a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Missouri seeking class action status on behalf of the affected customers of Trump Hotels.  The lawsuit was filed by the law firm Hipskind & McAninch, which alleged that Trump Hotels were negligent in failing to remedy basic data security issues at their hotels, not discovering the data breach until long after it occurred and in failing to notify its customers in a timely fashion which put their customers at extreme risk of identity theft.   In the last year, hotels have been particularly targeted by hackers.

TIPS
If you used your credit and debit card at a Trump hotel in the affected cities, you should obtain your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies and look for indications of identity theft.  You should also carefully monitor your credit card account and bank accounts for unusual activity.  You should also consider putting a credit freeze on your credit reports, which is always a good idea.

As for the rest of us, there is little that we as credit and debit card users can do to protect ourselves from the security vulnerabilities of the companies with which we do business.  One important thing to do is to refrain from using your debit card except at ATMs.  Using your debit card at retail establishments puts you at a much greater risk of expensive identity theft in the event of a data breach at the company with which you are doing business because of weaker consumer protection laws regarding liability for fraudulent use of your debit card.  Also, if you have not yet received a new EMV smart chip credit card from your credit card company, you should ask your credit card company for a replacement credit card with a computer chip now.  However, as I will discuss in an upcoming scam of the day, the EMV smart chip credit cards are not a panacea to prevent data breaches although they represent a definite improvement in security.