Hackers stole my identity and Cruise Planners won’t help me

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By Christopher Elliott

Edward Picarella needs your help now.

But he’d like more than the name of an executive in charge. He wants his identity back.

Picarella says he needs a name — specifically, the contact for the corporate headquarters of someone at Cruise Planners, a travel agency.

“My local agent has not returned my phone call regarding a computer breach at Cruise Planners in which my identity was stolen and credit card used for illegal purchases, and a fraudulent probable tax return,” he says. “The personal information stolen included my credit card number CCV, the passport numbers, names, addresses, phone, email address, etc., of both my wife and I.”

The Cruise Planners response wasn’t adequate

It contracted with a third party for identity protection for him but not his wife. Whose information was also compromised in the hack.

“From the evidence at my credit card company, and my accountant, it would appear highly probable that a false tax return was filed in my behalf. We suspect that the hackers would also be filing a return under my wife’s identity,” he adds.

“I have spoken to the reps at the third party company and asked for Cruise Planners to contact me and they also have failed to respond,” says Picarella. “I basically just want my wife afforded the same credit protection that was afforded me. Since my agent isn’t responding, I feel the need to escalate this to the corporate level. I cannot locate a contact on the net or on your web site.” (Here is our guide to taking a cruise.)

Our advocates have helped him to the best of their ability.

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands includes CheapOair and OneTravel. We are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

But the bigger question is: How do we help the Picarellas get their identity back?

A little background

Back in February, Cruise Planners did indeed suffer a breach, according to other customers. In a notification sent to passengers, the company warned of “potential unauthorized access to your credit card information.”

It added, “While we have no direct evidence that any particular card has been compromised, we feel that it is our responsibility to alert you to the potential fraud.”

Based on Picarella’s question, the breach appears to be more serious than the notifications claim. But if they are, you would expect Cruise Planners’ executives to respond immediately to a question like his. Not go into “stealth” mode.

Recovering from ID theft is easier said than done. Cruise Planners should be making every effort to make this situation right, but getting Picarella’s good name back — if, indeed it was stolen by a hacker — may not be so straightforward.

What should we be telling Picarella? Apart from helpful links from the Federal Trade Commission and executive contacts at Cruise Planners, is there more we can do? And who is ultimately responsible for fixing this mess?

Who's responsible for fixing Edward Picarella's ID theft problem?

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Update (March 23, 2015): This one is fixed. We just heard back from Picarella. He writes,

I was contacted today by Cruise Planners. The issue in getting my wife added to the identity protection was resolved successfully. CP apologized for the inconvenience, and it appears that I may have missed a call by the local agent late on Friday. Thanks for your help.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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