One Important Reason Why You Should Document Proof of Your Lifetime Status As Soon As Possible

Lifetime elite level status is a rewarding yet lofty achievement which can take many years; a significant amount of effort; and a lot of money, as it can potentially be very expensive — and being on that home stretch of achieving it with that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can be exhilarating, as you keep checking your membership account and tracking the progress…

One Important Reason Why You Should Document Proof of Your Lifetime Status As Soon As Possible

…until one day, you find out that someone has breached your membership account and siphoned it of its miles or points, leaving you with virtually nothing — other than a pit in your stomach.

You contact the customer service representative of the frequent travel loyalty program; and the best scenario is that you are told that you have nothing about which to worry, as your miles or points will be restored in your membership account…

…but as a precautionary measure to mitigate the chances that your information is not compromised again, you might be assigned a new membership account number — which is what happened to FlyerTalk member MisplacedYankee, who has achieved Diamond elite level status in the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program since 1996 and had accumulated six million points during that time, which easily exceeds the minimum qualifications to earn Lifetime Diamond status: “Last year my 1.6 MM points got hacked as I was 20 days away from my 1000 nights for Diamond for Life. They gave me a new number. Now they have me as a 1 year member with sketchy info going back even when I give them my own number. This has been months in review – I hit at least 40 stays last year (Diamond again) and when I complained they said there is some major issue with their systems that haven’t granted me the lifetime status and I am not alone. This has been 4 months now and say it will be fixed next week…”

Hopefully, Lifetime Diamond status in the Hilton Honors program will finally be bestowed unto MisplacedYankee

…but what if a similar situation happens to you — and you are asked for proof of the progress of your status and you have none?

Data Breaches are Unfortunately Rather Common

Fortunately, the frequent travel loyalty programs of most companies have converted the process of accessing a membership account from using a personal identification number of only four digits to using an actual password with mixed characters in order to increase security and mitigate the possibility of having membership accounts accessed by unauthorized people…

…but one notable exception is IHG Rewards Club, which still to this day has its members use personal identification numbers with only four digits to access their membership accounts. Theoretically, they are therefore likely more susceptible to data breaches than the membership accounts of competing frequent travel loyalty programs.

Although I have written extensively about data breaches which compromise your personal information — as well as the miles and points which you have worked so hard to earn over the years — the following articles do not even come close to documenting all of the data breaches solely within the travel industry:

Summary

I do not know of anyone whose membership account has not been compromised. In fact, most of the points were drained from my own Starwood Preferred Guest membership account back on Friday, January 16, 2015. Additional details of what happened — as well as updated information pertaining to the incident — thankfully led to the restoration of the points in my membership account.

The only way to protect yourself is to accumulate proof of your lifetime status — especially with IHG Rewards Club because of the continued use of the personal identification number — so that what happened to MisplacedYankee does not happen to you. This may include:

  • Taking a screen shot of your membership account
  • Contacting a representative at each frequent travel loyalty program to send to you your official lifetime status information on paper with an official letterhead
  • Keeping receipts of your purchases of stays and flights until they are officially recorded in your membership accounts

Illustration ©2012 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “One Important Reason Why You Should Document Proof of Your Lifetime Status As Soon As Possible”

  1. John Galt says:

    Thank you for posting this. This recently happened to me with Hilton, 300k points were ‘stolen’ from my account. Within a week, fortunately, I did get a new member number (and all points transferred, restored). And, yes, although it carried my ‘Gold’ status (due to AMEX) the membership start date appears like I’m a ‘new’ member. The system did not carry past stays except ones from 2019.

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