While most people are concerned for their online accounts for credit cards and bank accounts, new information reveals that hackers are now targeting rewards program cards held by consumers.  While not holding specific monetary value, the hackers are looking to these programs for two simple reasons – passwords and the rewards themselves.

    Reports indicate that many people use the same password or passwords for their online bank accounts or credit cards as they do for the rewards programs.  Hackers accessing this information use it for access to credit card and bank accounts.  In addition, these hackers have been known to also steal rewards points transferring them to other accounts in order to gain bonuses or even cash out on these bonuses.

    Several companies have sent alerts to members regarding these intrusions.  American Airlines as well as United Airlines both sent out notices to frequent flier members that an attack had been made on their systems holding mileage rewards and that some accounts had their miles transferred away to other accounts.  Hilton Hotels also notified customers to a data breach of its rewards program last year.

    Reports indicate that consumers have been shocked at the news that rewards programs are the new target of thieves.  Experts strongly warn consumers to create different passwords for each program and that these passwords differ from anything related to accounts or credit card online access.  Keeping these separate will be more complex for users to remember but can help lower the risk for unauthorized access.

    Some experts even suggest foregoing such programs as well as online access in any form.  Consumers are constantly being asked for personal information such as email address, phone numbers and address information at checkout lines or when signing up for programs at stores.  With the recent data breaches at several large corporations, experts wonder how secure this data is and what other methods hackers will use with the data breached.