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Marriott warns customer, employee information may be compromised

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Pat Blair-Huntington suggested Tuesday that Marriott provide free credit checks for all their customers.
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Marriott Vacation Club, which runs two time-share hotels anchoring the Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe, lost backup computer files containing personal information on 206,000 owners and employees from its Orlando office in the last week.

The company has conducted an internal investigation in the hopes of locating the backup data, which include Social Security numbers and credit card information, spokesman Ed Kinney said Wednesday. The primary data still remain intact. Marriott had sent out letters last week notifying its customers of the mishap.

It has provided an information line, (800) 952-8145, for assistance.

On the South Shore, the Grand Residence Club has 800 owners in 199 units. The Timber Lodge touts 5,300 in 137 traditional time-share units.

Kinney said the company had not isolated the involved customers by property, so it’s unclear how many South Lake Tahoe owners in the $250 million redevelopment complex near Stateline may be effected.

“The information could be misplaced and retrieving it would require sophisticated hardware. But any information out of our control concerns us,” said Kinney, who added it’s the hotelier’s first exposure to a possible data compromise.

This is a simple fact of life in modern times, tourist Pat Blair-Huntington said while walking in Heavenly Village next to Timber Lodge on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately in the computer age, we’re subject to this,” she said. Her ex husband, Mike Blair-Huntington, bought into one of the fractional units in the Timber Lodge hotel.

Blair-Huntington, who had a similar situation with an insurance company, suggested Marriott provide at least 90 days of free credit checks to time-share owners to monitor their financial status.

Kinney said the company is offering a year’s worth of credit monitoring to its customers.

Blair-Huntington said many of her high-rise apartment neighbors own paper shredders to protect their personal information from identify theft, but she hasn’t initiated the purchase for herself. She may consider doing so now.

Beyond these proactive measures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recommends consumers who fear their information has been compromised to tap into the computer to protect their identity. One such site, http://www.annualcreditreport.com, provides a free credit check per year.

“Unfortunately, people are getting defrauded all the time. Sometimes there’s criminal activity, and other times it’s just somebody who made a mistake,” FBI Sacramento district spokeswoman Karen Ernst said.

The district receives up to 10 complaints a month. Few turn into cases.


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