During recent years, the hospitality industry has been plagued with unflattering news coverage caused by many hotel security problems. Stories have flourished regarding countless burglaries, unsafe door locks, and even the hacking of guests’ credit card data.  In fact, a major PR offensive is currently underway to shore up the confidence of those wanting to safely book future reservations and pay for various hotel expenses using credit cards.

According to former Washington Post journalist and security expert Brian Krebs, the Marriott, Sheraton and Westin franchises suffered security breaches that “exposed credit and debit information on thousands of guests throughout much of 2013.”  It also initially looked like the Hilton Worldwide franchise had been victimized, although that rumor has now been refuted.

What These New Breaches May Mean for Travelers
It appears that most of the exposed fraud involved credit card payments for services within the hotels — including restaurants, gift shops and other similar establishments. Fortunately, hotel reservation systems may not have been hacked. However, since many guests spend large sums of money on their hotel restaurant meals, gifts and souvenirs during lengthy business trips and vacations, something must be done immediately to better protect all of these transactions.

Although the Secret Service has acknowledged that it’s investigating the recent Target, Neiman Marcus, and Michaels security breaches – it still hasn’t confirmed whether it’s making similar inquiries into the problems affecting some of America’s largest hotel management firms.

Several consumer groups and others are demanding that American credit card companies begin issuing the safer types of credit cards now commonly used in most of Europe without delay. In addition, activists are pushing for new congressional legislation that will require the immediate reporting of all new security breaches affecting consumers. Appropriate penalties may also be needed since many companies are highly reluctant to report hacking events because they fear jeopardizing their business profits.

If several highly astute cybersecurity reporters were not actively monitoring various banking communications, many breaches might still be unknown to the general public. Consumers should never have to simply fend for themselves while selfish corporate bigwigs debate when they should reveal all known or suspected security breaches.

How Soon Might U. S. Consumers Obtain Safer Credit Cards?
U. S. retailers have “until October 1, 2015, to install chip-and-PIN [aka EMV standard] compatible card readers at stores. After that date, merchants will be held liable for any fraudulent charges resulting from misuse of magnetic-stripe cards.” These types of cards are considered superior since they don’t rely on the magnetic stripes featured on most currently issued American credit cards. “Chip-and-PIN” cards store each person’s individual account information on embedded microchips – as opposed to the far more easily compromised magnetic stripes.

Hopefully, once most of have been issued these “chip-and-Pin” credit cards, we’ll all enjoy a long-term decline in successful security breaches.