Starwood Hotels & Resorts, a hotel and leisure company that owns thousands of properties that include Sheraton Hotels, The Westin, and W Hotels, is the latest victim of a data breach. The breach was reportedly caused by malware that stole payment card information from point of sale (PoS) systems. Customers of the 54 hotels (most of which are located in North America) who paid with debit and credit cards at on-site bars, gift shops, restaurants, and other retail stores over the past few months are likely to be affected by the breach, which compromised information such as names, payment card numbers, security codes, and expiration dates. However, the company said that contact information, Social Security numbers, and PINs were unaffected.
The malware infection is reported to have been propagating in the payment systems in varying lengths and locations between November 2014 and October 2015.
Sergio Rivera, president of The Americas at Starwood Hotels, has released a statement assuring the public that they are taking steps to secure customer data and that they are working with law enforcement authorities on an investigation. As compensation, the company is offering affected customers with one year of free identity protection and credit monitoring services.
At present, the malware is said to be no longer a threat to debit and credit card-paying Starwood Hotels customers.
Those who feel that their payment information may have been compromised in this incident—or in a similar incident—are advised to review and monitor account statements regularly for any suspicious activity and immediately report to your bank or card issuer if you suspect that your card information has been exposed. It is also recommended to choose a credit card provider that allows its customers to set up transaction alerts.
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