For identity thieves, travelers are a treasure trove of information.
When we travel abroad, we tend to carry a lot of important documents with us: Our credit cards, passports, itineraries, licenses, Social Security cards, medical documents, and tech devices are almost always on our person and, worst of all, come in contact with complete strangers who we’ll probably never see again.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see how an unfortunate encounter with an identity thief overseas can quickly result in losing more than just your identity. With a keen eye and a little know-how, however, you and your family can enjoy the thrill and excitement of traveling without the threat of identity theft ruining your good time.
Use Shared and Unsecured Internet Connections with Caution
Airports, train stations, hotels, and other public places usually offer some form of Internet access. While using these networks is a convenient way for you to check your email and credit card accounts, doing so is also a convenient way for identity thieves to do exactly the same.
To avoid identity theft while using these networks, log in to bank and email accounts as infrequently as possible. One easy way to browse securely is to replace the “http://” in front of URLs with an “https://”, which will automatically encrypt the connection.
Keep Important Documents in a Secure Location
Do you really need your medical information and Social Security card when visiting a café in Venice? Probably not; in fact, most people tend to carry an excess of important information when they travel.
While this is sometimes necessary in places like airports, keeping so many essential documents on your person only makes your identity easier to steal.
The easiest way to avoid losing your personal documents is to keep them under lock-and-key, whether doing so involves leaving them at home or keeping them in a secure place in your hotel room.
Be Careful Where You Use Your Credit Card
When you travel, you engage in transactions with merchants who you know nothing about and will probably never see again. While it’s safe to say that most merchants aren’t out to steal your identity, you can never be too sure.
The most effective way to prevent credit card theft and fraud is to only use cash withdrawn from secure bank ATMs. When you do find yourself using a credit card, just use common sense; avoid any merchant you feel uneasy about, no matter how much your kid wants that cheap trinket from the sketchy kiosk down the street.
Keep Your Phone Secure
Today’s smartphones provide access to almost every facet of our personal lives: Our email, address books, social media accounts, and even bank accounts are at our fingertips. When your phone gets stolen, this information is at your thief’s fingertips too.
Keeping your phone – and your wallet, for that matter – in a secure place at all times is the best way to ensure its safety.
One easy way to do this is to carry your personal effects in an inside breast pocket; pickpockets usually aim for pockets they can easily reach from behind you.
Know What to Do in Case of Identity Theft
In the off chance that someone does steal your identity, there are many steps you can take to reversing the damage.
While repairing identity theft can be a long and arduous process, taking immediate action by creating an identity theft report and reporting any suspicious transactions to your credit card company are good starts on the road back to normalcy.