Hackers now targeting rewards points - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Hackers now targeting rewards points

Using rewards points is how many people travel. (Source: file photo) Using rewards points is how many people travel. (Source: file photo)
(WWBT) -

Points for travel is often a prime perk for using credit cards. Building up miles toward a flight or points toward a hotel is how many people save for a much-needed getaway.

But have you checked your points lately? Someone else may be taking a grand vacation - on you.

Flights, hotels, rental cars, even entire trips, all for sale - not by regular travel agents, but by criminals setting up shop selling stolen rewards points.

"In the deep and dark web there are these travel agencies, and they're run by these vendors who advertise that they can get you pretty much anything that you would need for vacations to anywhere in the world," said Liv Rowley, an intelligence analyst with Flashpoint.

Those stolen rewards are usually at a major discount.

Rowley spends her day monitoring the dark web for fraud.

She says criminals use various software tools to nab your points.

"It's really important to see in the deep and dark web that this is not one person who's doing it all. It's often times groups of people that work together to accomplish fraud," said Rowley.

Rowley says a scammer will steal, for example, your flight miles and sell them to a criminal travel agent who takes other stolen points for something like a hotel and pool them together.

It's so brazen, there are ratings systems.

"It's unfortunate, but it's not all that shocking given the high value of the points and miles," said Emily McNutt, the associate editor for The Points Guy, a website about travel points.

Many people often don't know their miles are stolen until sometimes months after they're gone. 

McNutt says that's one reason the bad booking agents are able to set up shop.

"People know how to keep their bank accounts secure, they know how to check on their balances and make sure everything is up to date," she said. "However, unfortunately in the points and miles world, we don't always see that."

You can protect yourself with strong passwords, including different passwords for various accounts.

Make sure to also sign up for alerts, so that if your points are redeemed, you are the first to know.

"Consumers should look at points and miles as money," said McNutt.

While points programs aren't required to offer the same protection as credit cards, McNutt says many will stand by their customers.

She says if your points are stolen, call the provider as soon as possible to see what the company may be able to do to credit the points back to your account.

Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Report an Error or Submit a Tip to NBC12

  • 12 On Your Side12 On Your SideMore>>

  • Blocked county line sends human waste pouring inside home

    Blocked county line sends human waste pouring inside home

    Friday, May 25 2018 4:48 AM EDT2018-05-25 08:48:43 GMT
    A blocked county sewer line sent human waste pouring inside the home. (Source: NBC12)A blocked county sewer line sent human waste pouring inside the home. (Source: NBC12)

    A Mechanicsville family was forced to throw away everything in their home. The reason was a blocked county sewer line that sent human waste pouring inside.

    More >>

    A Mechanicsville family was forced to throw away everything in their home. The reason was a blocked county sewer line that sent human waste pouring inside.

    More >>
  • Freezer stolen from non-profit that helps feed community

    Freezer stolen from non-profit that helps feed community

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 6:18 PM EDT2018-05-23 22:18:53 GMT
    The Way Director Brian Purcell said this freezer was stolen from his non-profit over the weekend (Source: Brian Purcell)The Way Director Brian Purcell said this freezer was stolen from his non-profit over the weekend (Source: Brian Purcell)

    A Sandston non-profit that helps people in the community dealing with hunger, homelessness and addiction, needs help after their biggest freezer was stolen. 

    More >>

    A Sandston non-profit that helps people in the community dealing with hunger, homelessness and addiction, needs help after their biggest freezer was stolen. 

    More >>
  • New Kent homeowners frustrated about height of neighbor's grass

    New Kent homeowners frustrated about height of neighbor's grass

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 8:25 AM EDT2018-05-23 12:25:27 GMT
    New Kent County homeowners frustrated about neighbor's unkempt yard (Source: NBC12)New Kent County homeowners frustrated about neighbor's unkempt yard (Source: NBC12)

    Homeowners in Central Virginia may be dealing with some tall grass in their yards following last week’s rainy weather, but some residents in New Kent County say high grass has always been an issue for them. 

    More >>

    Homeowners in Central Virginia may be dealing with some tall grass in their yards following last week’s rainy weather, but some residents in New Kent County say high grass has always been an issue for them. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly