Most people are familiar with “Phishing” e-mails that try to trick you into revealing your password or sending money to a questionable recipient but a new scheme attempts to use the same strategy to steal your Frequent Flyer miles.
Everyone has some kind of e-mail address these days and even if you only use yours for a few very specific things you have probably encountered a “phishing” scam. These fraudulent e-mails appear in your in-box and use the tactic of urgency to get you to make rash decisions that will result in compromising your information.
Some, for example, will inform you that you have an off-shore bank account with lots of money in it but you’ll need to transfer money from your own account to verify it, and when you do this your account will quickly turn up empty. Others might simply try to inform you that your account security has been breached and you need to submit your e-mail address and password to verify your identity only to use that data to steal more personal information or even the contents of your bank account.
Since many people have come to understand these threats and are quite apt to overlooking them or deleting them completely (the latter is most advised) a new phishing scam is becoming more and more popular. The newest phishing strategy takes aim at your Frequent Flyer miles. A recent Delta Airlines SkyMiles customer alert stated
We have recently received reports from customers of fraudulent emails claiming to be from Delta Air Lines. These emails claim that you have purchased a Delta ticket, a credit card has been charged and/or an invoice or receipt is attached to the email.
While this may not sound like much of a threat, the truth of the matter is that this scheme tries to get you, as a concerned consumer, to do two things. First of all, the scam aims to have you open an e-mail attachment which, as most scams do, will install some kind of malware on your computer. This malware will record your keystrokes in order to steal passwords so that the proprietors of the malicious program can get into your bank or credit card accounts . Secondly, this scam aims to get you to input your Frequent Flyer account information, which they will then use as though it was their own personal account – either for personal travel or to sell to a third party.
Although Delta may have been the first to report this new scam, they have certainly not been the only major airline to encounter it. US Airways has also advised their customers of a similar threat, posting on their site a message that reads:
we would never ask you to perform security-related changes to your account or send you an email asking about your user name, password, or other personal information. If you receive a suspicious email, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Just delete it.
Delta and US Airways both agree that protecting your information is very important to the industry. Thus, they each advise their customers to remember that Frequent Flyer miles can be used just like cash within their associated network. This is what makes account protection so crucial and is the reason they suggest you regularly change your account numbers, passwords, or PINs, monitor your accounts thoroughly, and never click on links or attachments (or better yet, delete any and all suspicious emails).
In order to better help their customers identify these “suspicious” emails, Delta and US Airways both advise to be on the lookout for any e-mail that requests personal or account information, any e-mail offering free airline tickets, any URLs that are unfamiliar to you, or any e-mails that contain exceptionally poor grammar and spelling or other typos.
- FTC Warns of Prepaid Card Scams – May 23, 2013