A thief hacked into a San Mateo County resident’s American Airlines account and transferred 309,400 miles into the suspect’s own account, the victim reported to the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 6.
The total value of the miles “was approximately $9,127.30,” according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, which added there are no leads in the case. Such thefts are not uncommon.
This Comparitech article from 2018 found that “stolen frequent flyer accounts and rewards points are a hot commodity on the Dark Net.”
There are a number of ways hackers can benefit from stolen miles. While the miles can’t be used for travel directly, since booking a flight requires passengers to have identification, “many reward programs allow account holders to redeem points at local retailers, often through gift cards,” the article notes. Points can also be resold online, and in some cases hackers themselves will redeem the points and sell the rewards themselves.
To protect your airline miles, Comparitech offers tips, including shredding your boarding pass after a flight; never posting a photo of your boarding pass online; using a strong and unique password for your frequent flyer account; monitoring your account regularly for suspicious activity; refraining from putting your airline account number on a baggage tag; avoiding using public wifi to access your account; and using Experian’s Dark Web Scanner to see if your personal information is on the dark web.