Marriott has announced its guest reservation database was breached, potentially exposing information on about 500-million guests staying at Starwood hotels worldwide.
WSB consumer expert Clark Howard says "No matter how you slice it, this one's huge." LISTEN to WSB's full interview with Clark Howard below:
The company says credit card numbers and expiration dates of some guests may have been taken. The stolen information also includes some names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and passport numbers.
The breach has been taking place since 2014.
Howard says "A lot of the 500-million are repeat corporate travelers who stayed at the same or various hotels." He says "Identity theft is an ever present risk with the level of information the criminals have."
Marriott bought Starwood, which Howard says "is one of the biggest players in hotels worldwide."
Starwood operates hotels under the names: W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Element Hotels, Aloft Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, Four Points by Sheraton and Design Hotels.
As he has done with other major breaches, Howard recommends freezing your credit to avoid having your identity stolen. He says that way "Even if a criminal tries to use this information to take over your identity, you can shut them down cold." You can visit Clark.com for more info.
Marriott is working with law enforcement, and has set up a website and call center for anyone who thinks they are at risk. Also, the company will be sending emails to those affected.