December 14, 2018

Your Money: Marriott Hack Adds Passport Headache, but Its Intensity Is in Dispute

To be clear: Thieves probably won’t be making a few million passports. For any one person to become a victim, the thieves would need to be in the business of faking identities in the first place. That may not be their endgame at all. Then, they’d have to pick on your data and be successful in getting a passport in your name. Then, they’d have to choose to use it.

The odds of all that happening are low. In the world of payment cards — where fraud is not nearly as complicated — it’s still a small portion of customers that have to deal with it. A Visa spokeswoman said that as its algorithms improved and companies became more sophisticated, it has seen fraud rates on at-risk card accounts falling below 5 percent.

That won’t keep some people from wanting to do anything they can to avoid even rock-bottom odds of, say, landing in jail when they try to enter another country someday. So they’ll get a new passport, which comes with a new passport number.

For now, Marriott doesn’t want to pay for that peace of mind. Instead, it’s setting up a process to work with guests who may one day experience passport fraud that they believe was a result of this breach. Then and only then will it reimburse people for the costs involved with getting a new passport. On Sunday, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, called on the company to reimburse people who choose to obtain new passports.

Marriott is offering customers free enrollment in a service called Web Watcher from the security company Kroll, which scans the dark web for information that thieves may be trying to sell. You can give the service your passport number and ask it to watch out for those figures out there in the blackness — but the membership expires after a year.

But breach anxiety can be forever, or at least 10 years: the standard renewal period for adults’ passports.

So why can’t a company, just once, say something like the following? “We’re sorry. And we’re going to protect you for as long as you feel like you need protecting.”

Stacy Cowley contributed reporting.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/your-money/marriott-hack-passports.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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