Another day, another negative Air Miles news article. Basically, Air Miles is warning its members that thieves managed to steal “cash miles” from some collections. To protect its members, Air Miles temporarily halted the option that allowed members to use their cash miles to buy products at participating retailers.
Letter from Air Miles
Below is the email that I received from Air Miles reading this matter:
I rather not write another post talking about Air Miles, because this could have happened to any loyalty company. It just so happens to be Air Miles, go figure…
Anyway, instead, I am going to provide some suggestions how to better protect our loyalty accounts in general.
Keep in mind that if anyone stole any of our loyalty cards, especially retails cards (e.g. Air Miles, Plum Rewards, Shoppers Optimum, Scene), they can potentially redeem the miles/points on the spot. Even if our names do not align with the loyalty card. Airlines and hotels programs have a little more protection, because they require the member to present ID at some point in time during the transaction, usually at check-in.
Protecting your Loyalty Information
There are the usual recommendations, such as:
- change your passwords frequently
- create stronger password and usernames
- do not use whole words, use combinations of numbers and symbols (if available)
- check your account balances often to find any discrepancies that you can report right away
In addition to the usual recommendations, I would add not carrying the physical card on you. Personally, I have been using the Stocard App, so that all my loyalty cards are digitally stored on my cellphone. Furthermore, ensure that your phone is password protected.
What Retailers can do to Help
Focus on online or phone redemption only. By having these two options only, it will be easier to track, because there is a record trail. If the option exists to redeem in person, then it may be more troublesome, but retailers can insist on members to provide ID to correspond with the loyalty card. As it is, hotel and airlines request ID at the time of check-in, which is another layer of protection.
However, not all loyalty cards actually print our names on it (e.g. Shoppers Optimum, PC Plus, Plum Rewards).
At the end of the day, I personally treat my loyalty cards like cash or a credit/debit card, so I would protect them the same way. It is unfortunately that stealing is still a common occurrence in our society, but that is a discussion for another day.