Hackers Target Passwords and Loyalty Cards

Now, even customer loyalty cards are being eyed by cyber criminals.

Recently, Toys R Us issued a “security update" via e-mail informing customers that attempts have been made by hackers to gain access to reward customers' profile information.

“We identified an attempt to gain unauthorized access to a small percentage of Rewards'R'Us accounts from 1/28/15-1/30/15. We suspect this activity was due to large breaches at other companies (not Toys'R'Us), where user login names and passwords were stolen and then used for unauthorized access to other accounts, such as Rewards'R'Us accounts where a user may use the same login name and/or password," the update read.

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“We have forced a hard reset of your password, which prevents access to your account until it has been reset by you using an email address that was created prior to January 28, 2015," the update explained.

Toys R Us certainly isn't the first retailer to recognize a threat to its loyalty program. Late last year, American Airlines and United Airlines notified customers through e-mail that hackers compromised usernames and passwords, forcing some customers to lose miles as a result. The Hilton Honors loyalty program also sent out a warning last year explaining that hackers managed to access accounts and use reward points.

Fortunately, there are some steps customers can take to help ensure their rewards cards are secure.

1. Use Complex Passwords

The Toys R Us e-mail update suggested customers create a complex password that includes a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

2. Use Different Passwords for Different Sites

Selecting unique passwords for different sites is even more important nowadays when hackers, after accessing one account, might attempt to use those same passwords to access other accounts. Customers should also avoid repeating passwords that they've used in the past.

3. Update Passwords Regularly

Customers who have a habit of updating passwords regularly are more likely to safeguard their accounts in the event of a breach.

4. Monitor Credit Card Purchases

Regularly check your credit-card statements to be sure there are no fraudulent charges. If there are charges that seem suspicious, report them immediately and look further into the cause behind them.

5. Don't Misplace Your Rewards Cards

Although rewards cards might seem insignificant, stay proactive and treat them just as you would any other card, ensuring they are kept in a safe place and that they don't fall into the hands of cyber criminals. While losing a few loyalty points might not seem too alarming, these accounts could also tip off cyber criminals to personal information that could lead to much more damage.

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