Thursday, March 23, 2017

AIR MILES Cash Miles in-store redemptions halted temporarily due to fraud

Loyalty program fraud has been making the rounds in the news recently with programs like PC Points having been breached. The problem is not new and the industry has worked diligently for many years to combat program fraud. In the early days it was travel agents adding their frequent flyer number to tickets of passengers they booked who weren't part of frequent flyer programs, then it was employees at stores swiping their collector cards when the person purchasing an item didn't present their card and more recently it is the online world with hackers hacking into loyalty accounts.

The latest entrant into the fraud world is now AIR MILES (they just can't catch a break can they?) and their in-store Cash Miles redemptions. Apparently some Cash Miles have been stolen and used for in-store transactions.

Dear Collector,

This note is to make you aware that through our regular fraud monitoring processes, we have identified irregular activity occurring within a small number of in-store AIR MILES Cash transactions, where Cash Miles have been stolen. The personal information of all Collectors remains protected and has not been compromised. We are working diligently to resolve the situation and have already contacted our retail Partners, the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

While this fraudulent activity impacts only Cash miles and not Dream miles, the security of Collector Miles is of utmost importance to us and therefore we are sending this update to all Collectors. In a desire to protect AIR MILES Cash Miles, we have temporarily removed the AIR MILES Cash option for in-store purchases. Collectors are still able to redeem Cash Miles for e-vouchers online at airmiles.ca. These reward options include brands such as Staples, Starbucks, Cineplex, the Bay, and more.
As we work through this issue, we ask that you continue to protect the security of your AIR MILES Account by maintaining the confidentiality of your Collector and PIN number.

To view your balance or update your Account information please visit www.airmiles.ca.

I also wondered to myself when this may happen as is it is easy would have been easy to use these fraudulently.  I have used cash miles at places likes Sobeys to save $10 here and there and not once have I ever been asked to confirm whether the name on my card is actually me. So if you lose your wallet and someone gets your AIR MILES card or even easier just plugs in random AIR MILES Collector numbers into the website to see the card's balance that person can then go to any of these stores and utilize that number to get a cash redemption.  That was the beauty of in-store cash redemptions, they are so easy for the collector that they make sense but also being so easy makes them an easy target for the fraudsters.

AIR MILES says they are working diligently to resolve the situation which is great. I wouldn't be surprised if we see those merchants accepting AIR MILES cash to begin asking for identification or some way of inputting a PIN. And I hope, really hope that AIR MILES does away with the simple input a number and get your balance on their website, make all users type in their PIN before showing the account is valid and has a balance. This morning I logged in with just my AIR MILES number and this is what it shows

This means if anyone figured out or learned my AIR MILES number they would also see this and could have easily gone to one of the in-store redemption partners and redeemed my miles when the balance hit 95 (they haven't but I'm just hypothetically speaking)

Right now as a collector you don't have to do anything except check your account to make sure you weren't one of those who has lost miles.


American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express® Air Miles Platinum®* Credit Card
New American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card Cardmembers, earn a bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES reward miles when you charge a total of $1,500 in purchases to your Card within your first three months of Cardmembership.
Conditions apply

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