It's exactly the kind of news that neither Marriott nor the timeshare business wants to hear. Yesterday, Marriott Vacation Club International revealed that it has lost computer tapes containing data on 206,000 employees, timeshare owners and timeshare customers. The data, which Marriott claims would be difficult for anyone to access, includes addresses and some credit card information. Marriott quickly took steps to mitigate any effects of the blunder, including an offer to enroll those affected in a credit monitoring service.
It's unlikely that the information will fall into the hands of identity thieves or that anyone's personal data will be compromised. But ID theft is a hot button issue in the media, and in recent months a number of companies besides Marriott have had to disclose these kinds of security breaches.
We can only hope that Marriott miraculously finds the missing tapes or that the information doesn't fall into the wrong hands. The timeshare industry, in particular, has had a shady past and can't afford any bad publicity.