Getting your identity stolen while on vacation may not be on your top list of worries, but we’re here to place it on your radar. Nearly a half million items are pickpocketed every year, much of which includes valuable documents and IDs that can cause major headaches for months or even years. Especially when in an unfamiliar place, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to help prevent being a victim to an identity thief. Here are our top tips for your next getaway.
Hold onto important items. Seems obvious, but being aware of your items’ location is key to avoiding falling victim to a pickpocket. Know where your credit cards, passports, and wallet are at all times. Don’t obsess over it, but determine a secure location for these items and continually check their location. We find it helpful to store these items in an inside pocket within a jacket in cooler months, or you can purchase a pouch or belt bag to wear inside your clothing during the rest of the year.
Be careful using public Wi-Fi. On any Wi-Fi network that’s not your own, be cautious. If you need to use a computer when you travel, bring your own, and if you can’t avoid public Wi-Fi don’t do any online banking. A cell connection is usually more secure if you can get one, as the Wi-Fi hotspot might be setup solely for the purpose of stealing data. Do not enter any personal information while on them. When in your hotel, if available, the DSL connection is generally more secure. A virtual private network (VPN) is also a more secure way for you to connect to the internet from anywhere.
Organize your wallet beforehand. If you’re like most people, your wallet is jammed with multiple credit cards, a library card, gift cards, insurance cards, etc. Reduce the contents of what’s in your wallet before you leave and take only that which is necessary. This will make it easier to transport and if you do run into issues, it will reduce the number of items you need to replace.
Call your banks. Let your bank and credit card companies (of the card(s) you’ll take) know that you’ll be traveling so they know where you’re going and when. This will help identify suspicious charges and also avoid legitimate charges being flagged and causing your card to be shut down in error.
Be choosy about ATMs. When obtaining cash while traveling, use ATMs in well-lit areas, preferably those tied to a bank. ATM’s in the lobby of a bank during open hours or a lighted vestibule at night are best. Inspect an ATM before using it, and if you see something that doesn’t look right it probably isn’t. Like you should at home, be careful to conceal your PIN number by covering the keyboard when entering the number. It’s also a good idea to contact your bank to see if they have partnerships with any banks abroad; if that’s the case you can always use their in-person services.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, and fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated at stealing identity every day. By following these simple tips, you’ll be less likely to run into issues on your next getaway.