Marriott says at least 5.2 million guests' personal information was likely breached - the company's second major security incident in 2 years

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson congress

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Investigations Subcommittee hearing on "Examining Private Sector Data Breaches" on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

  • 5.2 million Marriott guests' information wasn't secured properly for more than a month in 2020, the hotel chain said Tuesday, and was possibly accessed by unauthorized persons.
  • The data that was possibly accessed an outside party includes contact info and loyalty account numbers, but not sensitive details like passport information or credit card numbers.
  • Marriott and other large hotel chains have been left reeling by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced mass layoffs and executive pay cuts throughout the industry.
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Marriott International said Tuesday that the personal information for at least 5.2 million guests could have been accessed by unauthorized people at two of its hotels for more than a month earlier this year.

The accessible information included full names, email and postal addresses, phone numbers, account numbers and points balance, birthday, gender, and any linked loyalty affiliations, like with airlines. ID and passport numbers, credit card information, and account passwords were not affected, the company said.Advertisement

In an email to potentially affected customers, Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott's president of its consumer group, said the company was setting up a portal in which they can see if their information was involved and offered one year of a free personal monitoring service from Experian.

It's the second time in as many years that the company has disclosed a data security lapse. The company in 2018 said 500 million customers' data from its Sherwood subsidiary had been improperly accessed in an event that also included some guests' credit card details. The breach remains one of the largest in history.

While small data breaches, especially of non-critical information, tend to be small blips on the radar, the bad news Tuesday could not come at a worse time for Marriott and the hotel industry at large.
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The coronavirus pandemic has forced hotel chains around the world to shutter properties and lay off droves of staff. In March, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson's salary was suspended for the rest of the year, while other senior executives are receiving a 50% pay cut.

"The impact to our industry is already more severe than anything we've seen before, including September 11th and the great recession of 2008 combined," American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Chip Rogers said this month.Shares of Marriott were little changed in trading Tuesday. The stock has declined almost 50% since the beginning of the year, easily outpacing a broader market selloff triggered by the coronavirus.Advertisement

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