You should always be constantly on guard against identity theft, but even more so when traveling. It does not matter whether you’re just going on a road trip with friends across the state, or flying to a foreign country on important business; you run a higher risk of becoming a victim of identity theft while traveling versus when staying at home. There are so many things that could go wrong during a trip, and so many of them can play a role in making you another ID theft victim.
The best plan is to be aware of the nefarious ways that identity thieves and schemers use, so that you can take steps to prevent what could be huge problems down the road. An important thing to remember when you want to keep your ID safe while traveling is that your safety precautions should start even before your trip begins. Read on to find out more about how ID theft occurs while traveling:
1. Using fake travel agencies
You already know that traveling to a foreign land exposes you to pickpockets, thieves, and swindlers of all sorts, especially when going to the unsavory parts of town. But you should also realize that schemers abound right here at home.
There are hundreds of stories about travelers ID theft, such as people entering their credit card information on fake travel websites, paying for exotic tours that don’t exist and booking reservations for hotel rooms that won’t be available once they get to their destination.
2. Ransacking your unattended home
If your home looks like it hasn’t been lived in it for a while, chances are there will be people moving in, but not the kind you’d be happy to see. An obviously-unattended home is paradise to all sorts of thieves, and even if they don’t steal your belongings, your personal information will still be at risk.
At the very least, they won’t even have to enter your house at all, since the dumpster at back will probably contain lots of old documents that you threw away.
3. Sifting through your mail
Taking a trip without securing your mail will be like dangling a fresh bone in front of a hungry dog. If you’re going to be away for quite a while, your mailbox will most likely fill up with all sorts of letters, bills, account statements, and other documents. The personal information contained in these documents will be enough for identity thieves to do their dirty work, and they won’t even have to dive into the dumpster.
4. Using fake ATMs
If thieves want your money, they will use any means necessary to get it. A favorite ploy that thieves use to commit ID theft on traveling consumers is to install generic ATMs with a card reader inside to read your card and capture the information within it. When they get hold of your PIN number and account information, you can say goodbye to your savings.
5. Hacking your electronic devices
Today, it’s common for people to bring along a laptop while on a trip, not to mention the ubiquitous smartphones. Unfortunately, ID thieves have developed ways of hacking your electronic devices. Business travelers are particularly vulnerable to these methods. They often access important websites and transmit valuable information via internet connections in hotels, restaurants, and airports.
6. Utilizing the “front desk scams”
Another method that is used to commit travelers ID theft is the “front desk scam”. It takes advantage of the tired traveler who is most likely too tired to understand what is happening at that moment. Imagine yourself going to bed after a long business meeting. The phone rings at the most inopportune time possible, and it’s the front desk clerk asking to confirm some information.
She asks if your credit card number ends in “6284” (any random number she picked). You check your credit card and say no, those are not the last digits on your card. She acts confused and requests you to just read aloud the card number, along with the expiration date. You’re sleepy and in no shape to think properly, so you give her the information she needs and go back to sleep. Do you realize what just happened here?
7. Stealing your wallet
If you’re like the average person, your wallet is probably filled with ID cards, credit cards, receipts, and even your Social Security card. It’s a repository of information in itself. So what happens when you lose your wallet to a pickpocket, or through some other means? Your identity is suddenly theirs for the taking. To protectfrom identity theft, carry only the most necessary documents with you while traveling.