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The Real Deal: Credit card numbers exposed again at the Desmond

Updated: Tuesday, December 17 2013, 03:08 PM EST
COLONIE—If you’ve used a credit card at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center lately, check your statements very carefully.  CBS6 has learned that for the second time in just two years, the credit card system at the Desmond has been hacked. 

CBS6 Investigative Reporter, Jennifer Lewke has confirmed the hotel was made aware of the possible breach on December 2nd.  It immediately called US Secret Service to investigate and hired a computer forensics company to conduct a full investigation.   Currently, The Desmond isn’t sure exactly how many credit and debit card numbers may have been exposed or the dates of the exposure.

Back in October, an Amsterdam couple held some of their wedding festivities at The Desmond, since then, they tell Lewke, the bride and 17 friends and family members who stayed at the hotel have had fraudulent charges appear on their credit card statements.  Linda Belstrum was one of those guests, “We talked to the father of the bride and he said yes, he had gotten calls from other people so then we started getting suspicious and that was about maybe three weeks ago…then last week, my credit card company called me and said that they suspected that there was a problem and asked if I had authorized use of my card in North Carolina and I'm in New Jersey and I had not authorized it, neither of us were traveling so we realized we had been compromised,” she says.

Fred Iannotti is a spokesman for The Desmond, he confirms that the hotel found illegally installed malware in its credit card processing system and removed it right away.  The investigation into whether the affected customers credit or debit card information, including card number and expiration dates is still on-going.  “We have yet to determine conclusively that any credit card fraud occurred as a result of the exposure at the Desmond,” he says. But the hotel guests CBS6 spoke with say they’ve got statements to prove their cards were used in North Carolina, Illinois, Florida and Massachusetts without permission. “The only thing that all of us had in common was that we stayed at that hotel, there are people, I don't even know from the grooms side of the family that are involved”  Belstrum says. State Police also confirm to CBS6 that they are investigating a separate complaint from a state agency that used a card to reserve a meeting room at The Desmond and had the unauthorized charges appear on the statement as well. 

This is not the first time The Desmond’s credit card processing system has been breached by hackers.  Between May of 2011 and March of 2012, hundreds of card numbers were compromised.  So far, the investigation into the most recent attack seems to show the two are unrelated.   “It's a lovely place, it's very nice and it was well run and I was just very surprised…it's not good for their reputation,” Belstrum adds. 

Customers of The Desmond Hotel can call the hotel toll-free 1-800-448-3500 for more information about the intrusion.   They also provide the following information for those whose credit card numbers have been exposed. 

IMPORTANT STEPS TO HELP PREVENT FRAUD

-Carefully review your debit and credit card account statements and report any unauthorized transactions.   You also may want to notify your financial institution(s) and credit card companies that you received this notice. This will tell them that your information may have been viewed or accessed by an unauthorized party. You also may want to request a new debit or credit card from these institutions if one has not already been issued to you.

-Consider contacting the fraud department at the three major credit bureaus listed below and ask them to place a "fraud alert" on your credit file.  A fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before they open any new credit accounts.

-Obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies and review them to be sure they are accurate and include only authorized accounts.  You are entitled to one free copy of your report every 12 months. To order your report, visit: www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228

-Carefully review your credit reports to verify that your name, address, account, and any other information is accurate. Notify the credit reporting agencies of any errors you detect and about any accounts you did not open or inquiries from creditors you did not initiate. In addition to your free credit report, you also can purchase a copy of your credit report by contacting one of the three national credit reporting companies listed above.

-Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to obtain additional information about how to protect against identify theft.  The FTC is a good resource for general questions about identity theft. if you are a Maryland resident, you may also obtain additional information from your state's Attorney General.

-We recommend that you remain vigilant over the next 12 to 24 months and immediately report any suspected identity theft or other misuse of personal information to the proper law enforcement authorities.  You have the right to obtain a police report if you are the victim of identity theft.
The Real Deal: Credit card numbers exposed again at the Desmond


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Hello and thank you for stopping by The Real Deal web-page! I'm hoping you'll find some useful information here. I (Jennifer Lewke) will be updating this page daily to bring you the latest news on anything and everything that may impact your wallet. Whether it's a bad business trying to rip you off, a contractor who took your money and ran, the government wasting your tax dollars, or a telemarketer who just won't stop calling, my goal is to uncover it and hopefully prevent it from happening again!

On the right-hand side of this page, you'll see a section labled "Links" --these will all take you to websites for organizations that help protect consumers. Most of the groups have the authority to fine or shut down bad businesses so it's important to file the proper complaints to get some action.

I'm happy to look into any issue you have to get you the Real Deal. You can reach me anytime at (518) 381-4992 or by email at jlewke@wrgb.com. I hope to hear from you soon!

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