COMINGANDGOING

COMINGANDGOING

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Booking a Room -- And a Problem

More than 240,000 travelers who booked on Hotels.com could find themselves victims of identity theft. In yet another company laptop disappearance, the names, addresses and credit card information of customers who booked between 2002 and 2004 were on a laptop stolen from the trunk of an employee of Ernst & Young, the outside auditor for the hotel booking site.

The information, if accessed, could be used to charge items or open new credit card accounts, security experts say. According to the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, an estimated 15 million people will have their identity compromised this year.

The laptop theft occurred in February, but Hotels.com wasn't notified until early May, and began sending letters to customers May 26. The files were password-protected.

Ernst & Young is providing a year's worth of free credit monitoring to the affected customers, who are being informed of the security breach by mail. That means they'll be alerted to significant changes to their credit reports after they've occurred , said security expert Todd Davis of Lifelock.com, a firm that helps consumers safeguard their identity. Those concerned that their personal information has been compromised should make sure credit reporting companies put a "fraud alert" on their files so that no new credit card can be opened in their names until they are contacted by phone, Davis said. He said that compromised data is sometimes used for years and that fraud alerts must be renewed every 90 days.

To post a fraud alert, call one of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian (888-397-3742), Equifax (800-525-6285) or TransUnion (800-680-7289). For tips on preventing identity fraud, check the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Web site,http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

sporting chance

Germany Jammed

Even if you're not attending a World Cup game, you should know where the soccer games are being played if you're traveling in Germany between now and July 9.

On and around the dates of games in 12 German cities, airports, roads and hotels will be jammed , and increased security will slow things down even further. Game schedules are available at http://www.fifaworldcup.yahoo.com/ . Oh, and just to make it more interesting, German air traffic controllers have threatened a nationwide strike during the games.

The largest security risk for travelers isn't terrorism but petty crime and violence by crazed soccer fans and neo-Nazis, says iJet Risk Assessments, which advises corporations and individuals on travel. The United Kingdom has banned 3,000 known soccer hooligans from traveling to Germany during the games, but iJet says Croatia, Poland , Serbia, Montenegro and Ukraine haven't been effective in blocking travel of their hooligans. And despite the U.K. travel ban, says iJet, "violence is still possible around England's matches, and around Baden-Baden, the training site for the English team."

TRAVEL TICKER

The tourism industry in Belize is discouraging travel to Chiquibul National Park and the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve following attacks against tourists. For more details on crime in Belize: U.S. State Department, http://www.travel.state.gov/ (click Consular Information Sheets) . . . Ki ds ages 15 and younger golf for free with an adult after 3 p.m. and get a free lesson with a paying adult at 52 Marriott golf courses. Details: http://www.marriottgolf.com/ . . . If you've been too scared to ride Disney World's stomach-churning "Mission: SPACE" attraction, the park is offering a second, tamer version, with the spinning centrifuge turned off. Two tourists -- a German woman and a 4-year-old boy -- died in the past year after falling ill on the ride.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

California Scheming

Fly nonstop from BWI to Oakland for $218 round trip, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.

Reporting: Cindy Loose.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

California Scheming

Fly nonstop from BWI to Oakland for $218 round trip, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.

Reporting: Cindy Loose.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company