Westin hotel in LA reports possible data breach

Restaurant point-of-sale systems may have been hacked

People who stayed at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles last year and used their credit or debit card to eat there should keep a close eye on their bank statements.

Hotel officials disclosed Friday that the hotel's four restaurants, along with its valet parking operation, may have been hacked at some time between April and December, disclosing names, credit card numbers and expiration dates printed on customers' debit and credit cards.

The Westin Bonaventure is in L.A.'s downtown financial district, near the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Staples Center.

"Guests who used or visited the affected businesses during the eight-month period and who used a credit or debit card to pay their bills directly to the restaurants and valet parking might have had such information compromised and are encouraged to review their statements from that time period," the hotel said.

The system that stores hotel guest information wasn't affected, the Westin said. It offered few other details, including whether any credit card data had been misused, and a spokesman for the company's public relations firm didn't immediately return a call Friday.

In a letter to customers on its Web site, the hotel said its point-of-sale system may have been compromised by an outside hacker. It is offering a free credit monitoring service for customers who believe they were affected.

Hotel computers have emerged as a major target for hackers of late. Recently, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts disclosed that 37 of its hotels had been hacked in late 2009 -- the third such breach affecting Wyndham over the past year.

The Westin said it contacted law enforcement officials as soon as it learned of the breach, though it didn't say when that was. It said it was working with investigators and the credit card companies to identify the hackers.

"Guests who suspect unauthorized activity should report it to the bank that issued the credit card, as well as proper law enforcement authorities, state attorney general's office, and the Federal Trade Commission," the hotel said. It also advised guests to consider placing a fraud alert on their credit files.

The hotel's restaurants are the Lake View Bistro, Lobby Court Bar, Bonavista Lounge and L.A. Prime.

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James Niccolai

IDG News Service
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