Identity Theft in the hospitality by sturesearcher


									      Identity Theft in the Hospitality

Amy Nguyen
Diploma in Hotel and Tourism Management
HTMI Switzerland
Technology, which changes and updates incessantly is one of the fastest growing

industries. It has enormous impact to the global industries. Hotels, resorts and

hospitality industry are a part of these; they are increasingly issuing and applying

high technology. For example, most of the hotels system use computers to record

their data information instead of writing on paper; reservation, check-in and

checkout procedure are also done by Fidelio system. However, everything has its

good and bad side to its character. Why and how technologies become issue and

threat in hospitality industry? Hospitality industry’s security is not only a concern

but also data security is becoming a serious issue. Hackers and clever

programmers with technical proficient knowledge try to discover and break

through weak points of the security system (Federal trade commission 2006). In

many ways, the hacker attempts to attack data center of hotels or resorts to access

guest’s information, which includes customers’ names, addresses, credit card or

debit card numbers and the expiration date on the cards (Korallus 2009).

Identity Theft and its Effect

According to Metzger (2009) and Greenberg (2010), the hospitality industry is one

of the most favorites industries for the hackers and 2009 became the flavor year

for cybercrime, not only in resorts and hotels but also in restaurants. Following the

Associated Press, they brought to an end of the report: “Restaurants are among the

most common targets for hackers, experts said, because they often fail to update

their antivirus software and other computer security systems.” (Walsh 2009).
As a result, the majority of stolen card information in the hospitality industry is

38% when compared with the other industries such as financial services 19%,

retail 14,2%, food and beverage 13%, and the rest 15.8%. It is total up 8.4 million

people that became victims in 2007 and the number was increased to 9.9 million

victims in 2008. It is estimated that every four seconds one person becomes the

victim of this crime (Kim 2009). Losing guests’ data is very big issue that the

hospitality industry has to face at the present. It was reported and published on

February 2010 from ABC News American Information Network, in 2009 the

Radisson hotels & resorts in North American and more than 37 Wyndham hotels

and resorts branded in USA were attacked and lost all guest’s credit card

information. Their entire computer system had been infiltrated and the hackers

can access the hotel information system from outside by going though network

connection (Greenberg 2010).

Stakeholders and Preventative Measures

The first victim is the hotel is the lost guests’ information. They are losing guests’

loyalty, damaging their own reputation. Moreover, they are gradually losing their

business or even bringing them to legal proceedings. A typical example is the

Wyndham and Radisson hotels and resorts branded, they are suffered the heavy

losses in both of money and reputation. They have to apologize to hotel’s guests by

writing an open letter, coordinated with government in investigating, and

compensating for financial damage to their guests for this period of time (Korallus

2009; Hotchkins 2010).
At present, their guests are afraid of the hotel’s security system although the hotel

had been already improved the system and prevented the attack. The second

victim is the guest who has lost their private information and money. The last but

not least is the hospitality industry; it is losing guest’s satisfaction and the

hospitality reputation. Hospitality businesses are learning the value and power of

mobility technologies and IT automation. Heightening staff’ vigilance and

preventing every danger that can happen related to data and information systems.

For instance, when the staffs download or open unknown attachments, the system

might install the virus transfer from hacker. After that identity theft have chance to

attack the computer system, spread viruses, and access the sensitive information.

In addition, the network and computer systems should regular update, remove or

limit using the backward systems, which create opportunities for increasing

cybercrime. Another important thing is the discarded data, which sometimes

contains personal documents, is normally in a stage of neglect by the individual

and business. It create the great opportunities for identity theft who is looking for

and finding the valuable information in the garbage, so the business should shred

the document before throwing it away ( Biegelman 2008, p.31).
Theoretical Implications

Figure 1: Javelin’s Prevention, Detection and Resolution Model (Javelin 2009)

The identity fraud survey report that published by Javelin (2009) invented a model

with the name “Javelin’s prevention, detection and resolution model” (Figure 1

above) to strengthen and bring out the meaning of this situation. It proven

methods against the identity thefts and show ways how to prevent, detect and

resolute. Prevention: The hotel should stop identity theft at the source material;

prevent unknown material harm to the data system. This method helps to prevent

and thwart the criminal’s use of the data. Detection: It will be discovered by

occurring problems through monitoring systems, guests’ warning, account

monitoring, reviewing credit reports for recognizing unusual activities.
Resolution: After the identity theft has occurred; guests and providers restore the

accounts and creditworthiness by using these services and tools (Biegelman 2008;

Javelin 2009).


In conclusion, high technology is a fast developing field. Beside, numbers of people

use credit and debit card occupies almost big part in the society. Following with is

the security lacking in the hospitality industry, it creates the opportunities for

hackers to attach system breaches and steal guest’s information by plenty of ways.

It becomes a big lesson from technology security to the hospitality industry. They

should find the best solution to reduce this issue by detecting, preventing and

resolving the problems (Federal trade commission 2006).


In fact, identity theft is becoming enormous threat not only to the hospitality

industry but also to each of us. We should be careful with any of our information

cards, especially is the credit and debit card because there are numbers of people

is stolen cards are increasing rapidly in 2009. One of my advices is limiting reveal

the private information when you come and stay in the hotel or any

accommodation; it is better if you pay them by cash. . If the number of identity

theft is still going up like this, in the future the hospitality will have danger losing a

huge number of guests.
Reference List

Biegelman, M. 2008. Identity Theft handbook Detection, prevention and security.
[online book] Available from: [Accessed May 10 2010]

Federal trade commission. 2006. Take charge: Fighting back against Identity Theft.
[online] Available from: [Accessed May 10 2010]

Greenberg, A. 2010. Credit card data stolen at hotels, resorts. [online] Available
from: [Accessed May 8 2010]

Higgins, K.J. 2010. Hospitality Industry hit hardest by hacks. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 5 2010]

Hotchkins, K. 2010. Open letter to our customers. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 10 2010

Javellin. 2009. Identity Fraud survey report. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 10 2010]

Kim, R. 2009. Identity Fraud survey report. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 8 2010]
Korallus, F. 2009. Open letter to Radisson guests. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 10 2010]

Metzger, T. 2010. Hotels a hot spot for credit card fraud. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 5 2010]

Walsh, L.2009. The weak link in identity theft. [online] Available from: [Accessed May 7 2010]

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