7 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft When Traveling
What’s Identity Theft?
The term ‘identity theft’ was coined back in 1964. We’d best define it as the deliberate use of another person’s identity, often as a technique to gain financial advantages or obtain credit, among other benefits. That’s done under the other user’s name. It results in the other person’s loss or disadvantage.
The real owner of the identity will then suffer adverse consequences in case they’re held responsible for such actions. It occurs when a person makes use of another individual’s personally identifying information. That could be their ID number, name, or credit card number. Such information is misused to commit fraud and other crimes, without the real owner’s permission or knowledge.
Identity (ID) theft can occur anytime and anywhere. It can even happen during your day-to-day activities. Someone can steal your personal information. They’ll then misuse your personal information. That puts all the things which make you who you’re at risk.
Determining and defining the link between identity theft and data breaches is quite challenging. That’s so primarily because ID theft victims often don’t know how their information was leaked. Also, ID theft isn’t always detectable by individual victims. ID fraud is often, but not necessarily, the result of ID theft.
An individual can misappropriate or steal personal information. They’ll then commit ID theft using information about that person. Major data breaches occur when ID theft is committed using information about many people. The cause of ID theft isn’t most often known.
How Would Someone Steal Your ID?
- Your identity might be compromised: Someone might have access to your personal information. They’ll do that without your knowledge.
- They assume your ID: The person will assume your identity. They might then attempt to access your financial resources, as well as other benefits. They’ll do all that in your name.
- They use your ID: The person will pretend to be you. They’ll then use your finances and other personal information. As a result, that will put your assets, credit, achievements, and other things at risk.
- You’ll deal with all the damage: Ultimately, the impostor might ruin your family, reputation, and finances. It’ll leave you responsible for all damages caused by any theft.
Are You Safe?
It barely matters whether you’re out and about or at home. Several activities which you do on a daily basis could put you at considerable risk. We discuss the most common activities in the section below.
- Shopping Online: Yes, most online businesses adopt measures to ensure that the transactions are secure. But, there’s always a chance that these firms might experience a data breach. In fact, the creation of secure login credentials isn’t enough to protect your personal information from the prying eyes.
- Receiving Mail: Most probably, you’ve ever received prepaid credit card offers or bills from a firm that you do business with. Then, you simply ended up throwing those items away. You may be putting yourself at risk. That’s done when you make your personal details available to people. The prying eyes won’t mind digging through the trash to find that information.
- Carrying a Purse or a Wallet: Pickpocketing does still exist, even in the digital world. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running errands in the neighborhood or traveling abroad. Losing your wallet or purse can result in financial headaches which you shouldn’t need to deal with.
- Visiting your Doctor’s Office: Most probably, you trust you doctor to assist you in staying healthy. But, what about the staff working behind that check-in desk? What about the other patients? The forms which you’ve included the Social Security Number (SSN), address and name, ought to be stored securely. Failure to do that could put you at risk.
- Visiting Banks and ATMs: Do you shield the keypad whenever you punch in the PIN? How often do you check to ensure that the keypad you’re making use of is the same one which has always been there? A scammer can fake a keyboard just to gain access to your personal account. Now, consider the financial damage which could be done in case you don’t pay attention.
- Using Mobile Phones and Laptops: The Internet provides us with the ability to connect immediately with businesses and other people in our lives. It doesn’t matter where we’re. We might feel secure when browsing the Web through Wi-Fi connections at the local coffee sheep. But, there’s always the chance that we may not be secure as we think.
Types of ID Theft
We’d subdivide ID theft into five different categories as listed below:
- Medical ID Theft: A person uses another’s ID to get drugs or medical care
- Criminal ID Theft: A person poses as another when apprehended for a certain crime(s)
- ID Cloning: Another person’s information is used to assume their identity in daily life
- Financial ID Theft: A person uses another’s ID to obtain goods, services, and credit
- Child ID Theft: A person uses ID theft to fund or facilitate other crimes, including terrorism, phishing, illegal immigration, and espionage
Preventing ID Theft When Traveling
It’d be a bad idea to leave yourself vulnerable to ID theft, especially when you can only continue enjoying life on your very own terms. As you make travel plans, it’s vital that you plan how you’ll keep all of your personal details safe. When away from home, distractions turn into opportunities for criminals who’re seeking ways to steal your ID. But, you shouldn’t let such ruin your trip or vacation.
Often, travelers are a ripe target for ID thieves. You might provide other people with access to your personal and financial information more often when traveling that in your typical daily interactions. Consider the fact that your belongings are out of your control for longer periods during flights. Also, you’ll take your ID out often for airport security check-ins. Still, you’ll use your credit card in several unfamiliar locales, including car rental places, hotels, and restaurants.
As well, you might potentially visit foreign ATMs and access the Internet from lesser known locations. All such factors serve as target avenues for ID thieves. Such risks are magnified when you’re traveling for business. There, you’re likely to make use of a corporate credit card. In such cases, you can potentially leave behind the sensitive corporate information.
With that in mind, below are seven tips to prevent ID theft when traveling:
1. Secure Everything at Home Before Leaving
Often, frequent travelers carry a lot in their briefcase. That includes bills which came in the mail even before they left. You ought to ensure that you’ve paid any bills which are due before leaving. Also, strive to reduce everything that you intend to carry. If possible, take just what you’d require for the trip. Most people presume that hotel rooms are safer places to leave papers and documents. Unfortunately, they’re not. Some people have got access to the room keys.
You shouldn’t thus leave anything that has home addresses, account numbers, or other personal ID information. Leave all your checkbooks, security cards, and extra credit and debit cards at home. You should then secure such items in a safe or locked cabinets. Say you’ll be gone for a month or longer. Then, you’d want to consider freezing all credit reports. In turn, that will prevent potential lenders from creating new accounts without your special authorization.
2. Secure Your Mail
It’s highly advisable that you secure your mail when you’re gone. In fact, you shouldn’t leave your mailbox unattended in case you’re traveling. You can have your trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail daily. Alternatively, you can suspend your mail right at the post office. Your mail can serve as a treasure trove for criminals. It may contain personal information, as well as your credit card information. Such could easily result in ID theft.
There isn’t any greater magnet for thieves than a mailbox that’s overflowing with mail. So, take safety measures. For instance, avoid announcing your travel dates, especially on social media platforms. That’d be like issuing a direct invitation to burglars. Avoid putting any outgoing mail which contains credit card information, checks, or any other personal information in the mailbox. Instead, drop those mails at the post office.
3. Pre-Trip Check-Ups
We’d advise that you conduct several pre-trip check-ups. Further, take a close look at all your social media and other online accounts even before leaving. Look into the social media settings. Also, check out even your kids’ accounts. Ensure that you don’t leave any trail online by posting photos and updates. Posting updates online when traveling will alert ID theft criminals that you’re not around. In turn, they’ll view it as a golden opportunity to burglarize your home. So, ensure to turn off your location settings. Also, if possible, delay the posting of the trip’s photos until you’re home.
4. Select your Cards Wisely and Empty your Wallet
You won’t need some things. That includes that social security card and the grocery savings card. In fact, such items will give thieves who get your wallet more personal information. They’ll go ahead to make your ID their own and misuse it. It’s thus vital that you weed out all your wallets. Leave everything that you won’t need behind. Say you’re traveling internationally. Then, only carry your health insurance card only if you’ve got international medical coverage.
Also, take several credit cards from distinct accounts. Take one of those cards and store it in your money belt. Have the other card with you. That way, you can rely on the extra card in case one gets stolen. Whenever possible, leave all your ATM cards at home. Electronic access to money results in kidnappers taking tourists to the ATMs. Then, they’ll force them to clean out all the money in their accounts.
Also, avoid traveling with any copy of your credit card numbers. If possible, go to the extent of employing a fake wallet. Place several small bills and expired cards in it. Carry the fake wallet with you, but keep the other one hidden in deeper pockets in your money belt. That way, you’ll hand the thieves the fake wallet in case you’re mugged. You’ll feel confident knowing that the real assets are safe.
5. Hush Social Networking and Secure Your Electronics
Nowadays, people carry an entire lot of data on their tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Although such devices are small, portable items, they’re easy to steal and lose. In fact, you might do everything right and secure your home before leaving. But, in case you start posting beach pictures to Facebook, you may, as well, have left a door wide open.
First, remove all non-essential information and files from your devices. Disable all peer-to-peer communication, remote connections, and file-sharing. Update all the electronic devices which you’re taking with stronger passwords. Also, try limiting your social network sharing till you’re back from the trip. Ensure to lock all the electronics in your hotel room’s safe. Or, secure them in a hard case which is secured to some immovable object.
Avoid making use of public Wi-Fi spots and public computers. Key logging software can mess your entire trip. Thieves make use of such software to record keystrokes. That includes the passwords you type in to access private accounts. That makes it possible for ID thieves to access your accounts as you stand in line for a morning espresso.
6. Look Out for Scam Artists and Any Suspicious Activity
To catch individuals off guard, scam artists employ difficult tricks. They do that hoping to obtain credit card numbers, among other personal data. For example, a phone call at midnight to verify your card wouldn’t be from the hotel’s front desk. Also, a short text claiming that your account is compromised wouldn’t be from your bank. In case you get a text or call, just go directly to that source to clear it up by yourself. Or, call the bank itself.
Additionally, take caution when using cash machines. First, examine the device for skimmers. In fact, you ought to strive to use machines inside hotels, banks, and the like instead of outside ones. As well, ensure to hold one hand over the device’s keypad when typing your PIN. That will help block any recording device. Don’t let your card(s) out of sight. Instead, take that restaurant bill to the register and pay there. Simply put, avoid all things which sound too great to be true.
7. After Returning, Be Vigilant
Maybe you didn’t check your accounts when you were gone. But, it’s not over yet. Thieves are often patient and happy to take a break. They’ll wait till you settle back into your typical routine before they pounce. It isn’t the time to let any of your guards down. Call your bank. Inform them about your return date. The bank would appreciate an early notice.
Verify all the receipts which you brought home with charges on your cards. Do you notice anything that’s not ordinary? If so, you should then call your bank at once and inform them about it. Ensure to check your financial accounts on a regular basis. Also, check out your credit reports once or twice every year.
ID theft is almost epidemic. But, the lack of ID security people has while traveling is also epidemic. When moving, the risk of ID theft increases. The tourism industry can be anything but immune from thieves and scammers. People have been paying for tours which didn’t exist. Others have typed their credit card details onto phony websites.
While on vacation, ID thieves are working hard. They’ll wait for you to let your guard down. Do that and before you even realize it, your personal details will have been compromised. ID theft on the road is much more widespread than you’d think. In fact, thieves will strike the moment you least expect it. Most ID thefts occur in hotels (24%). So, ensure to follow the steps above to prevent ID theft before, after, and during your trip. They’ll help protect you against all sorts of scams.