With 3.3 billion memberships in the U.S. alone, loyalty programs are worth $48 billion, according to Colloquy. Hackers and thieves see valuable loyalty currencies — the cache of points and miles socked away in countless programs — as easy targets since customers often monitor them less, compared to other financial assets.
Imagine, for a moment, that you have $300 in rewards points value. Do you:
Two hundred and thirty-eight billion dollars. That’s the estimate of total outstanding value of all the rewards and loyalty programs in the U.S. It’s a gigantic figure, so much so that it has caught the attention of folks who wouldn’t mind cashing in on all those points – other people’s points that is.
With 3.3 billion loyalty program members in the U.S. (we know, that’s almost 10 times the nation’s entire population), it’s predictable that the $48 billion in loyalty currency is attracting its share of criminal attention. That means rewards dollars are just as susceptible – and in some ways, even more so – to fraud as real dollars. Fraudsters are stealing airline points to book free flights and even draining loyalty card balances through mobile apps. And because rewards accounts don’t share the same level of security and protection as traditional financial accounts, they’ve become highly covetable targets for hackers.