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Hackers Wipe Out My Club Carlson Balance & Award Wallet Saves the Day

If you have an Award Wallet account, you probably love those periodic notifications with the little green arrows pointing up to signify an increased balance. It’s one of the few emails I enjoy getting. Well this past Saturday, that email showed up and instead of the usual green arrow, I received a notice that my account balance had dropped by 578,000 points! That’s right: The 578,000 Gold points I had acquired during the Big Win and Lookbook promotion had been wiped out and I was left with a mere 4,689 points.

Award Wallet Club Carlson Screenshot

After verifying that this could not have been due to point expiration, I tried calling Club Carlson but their customer service center was closed for the weekend. I sent an email, but with their notoriously slow email service, I didn’t expect a response. The next morning I tweeted at the Club Carlson Twitter team, which is generally pretty helpful. A Twitter rep, Josh, told me to look out for a response from customer service within 24 hours. Sure enough, this morning a rep from corporate customer service followed up.

She informed me that my account was among several that were hacked. The hackers had gotten in, changed my email and mailing address, and redeemed 578,000 points for seventeen $50 Toys R’ Us gift cards. I don’t know what’s more offensive: The fact that someone hacked into my account or that they got such lousy value out of the points they redeemed.

Club Carlson Rewards Security Breach

My email and mailing address were changed back and I was told the points would be redeposited. This was a quick phone call and I really appreciated their swift action. I asked whether they thought the breach had anything to do with Award Wallet. While they are still investigating, they do not think that is the case. I’m certainly grateful to Award Wallet, since their notice is what set off this investigation in the first place. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have logged into my account for another year, at which point I would have been pretty upset to find 578,000 points missing

Here’s what you can do to avoid a similar headache down the road:

1. Check your Balance. If you’re a Club Carlson member, check your balance asap and if there’s anything off, give them a call at 1-888-288-8889. While you’re at it, make your password more secure. I know nothing about hacking, so I don’t know what to tell you about protecting yourself against it. I will just reiterate some advice that I’ve read in every single article about internet security: Pick a difficult password. If the pros (or those responding to HARO reporter inquiries) are saying it, there must be something to it.

2. Sign up for Award Wallet. If you don’t have an Award Wallet account, get one now. It’s free and while several airline programs are no longer supported, it’s still useful for tracking the dozens of other programs that still are. Enable notices and you’ll get an email any time there is an increase/decrease in your balance. Pay attention to these emails and check your account when anything seems off.

Is your account among those that were hacked this week? Please share in the comment section.

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Ariana Arghandewal

11 Comments

  1. Interesting both you and frugal travel guy ended up with the same number of points: 4689. Weird ….

    • Makes sense, since I also manage the FTG blog. I figured this is important enough that it needs to reach a wider audience.

  2. Looks like Club Carlson won’t let you update your password, e-mail, or address online – you have to contact them. I wonder if it is because of a breach on their site?

    • I was able to change it online. If you’ve been hacked, definitely give them a call.

  3. I’m sorry this happened to you! So, did someone actually get to redeem your hotel stays?

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