There’s no shortage of ways for unscrupulous people to steal your points. You’ve read of some of the more brazen ones where your account is hacked. Once hackers have control of your account, they’ll make last-minute travel bookings hoping it will be too late by the time you notice what happened. Another trick they use is to transfer your points to an Amazon.com account and drain it for gift cards, which can be liquidated almost immediately.
Going for the big score is the high risk, high reward game. They might only get away with it for a fraction of the accounts they hack but when it works, they’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars each time.
But what if the bad guys don’t want to risk getting caught right away? Is there a way to steal points where it’s not noticeable to the person whose points are getting taken?
Of course there is.
If you’ve ever had an account where your miles were getting close to expiring, you’ve probably received a mailer letting you know that you can use your points for magazine subscriptions. Since most subscriptions go for 100 to 500 points, it’s a way to use up your orphan points.
What if someone else could sign up for magazines with your frequent flyer account number and use your miles? Turns out, it’s easier to do than you’d think.
A reader from our Facebook group wrote that when they were looking at their account summary to see if points from a canceled flight credited correctly, they noticed someone was using their Skymiles to buy magazines.
The transactions started back in 2018 and were for 100 miles here and 500 miles there. If you’re not looking at your account summary, it’s easy to miss that your miles are disappearing.
When they called Delta Skymiles, they were told it would be necessary to contact the vendor, Magazines for Miles.
Magazines for Miles informed her that the only thing required to purchase magazines through their website is a frequent flyer account number. No password or other account information is necessary. Looking at the transactions, they said the magazines were being sent to an address in Florida, which is not even the same state where they live.
Our reader says they never received any emails alerting then that points were being deducted like the kind you’d get when you redeem Skymiles for a flight reward.
Magazines for Miles and Delta Skymiles are investigating the matter and hopefully will refund all of the miles to the member.
My first thought was this could have been an innocent mistake. If all you need is a frequent flyer number, it’s possible that someone transposed two numbers. I once found a fantastic deal on a rental car by doing precisely that. However, when I saw this person’s issue was an ongoing scam with transactions several months apart over two years, it had to be more than that.
How can you protect yourself?
One way would be to keep track of your accounts using a website like Awardwallet. You can sign up for a weekly email showing which of your account balances have changed, making it easier to see if someone’s stealing your miles.
Besides that, websites sometimes make it too easy for people to steal from you. It takes a while for them to make the changes to increase security. At least IHG has finally changed from their 4 digit pin and allows you to make a real password.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary