It’s one of the most common crimes out there for the modern traveller, and unfortunately the number of people affected just keeps on rising.
On average, 25% of Australians were victim to some form of identity theft in 2015, compared to just 7% one year earlier.
While many people believe that identity theft only happens when you shop online or give your personal information to a questionable phone salesman, the truth is that identity theft can happen anywhere – especially when you’re travelling abroad.
In fact, identity theft has become a popular crime around the world, and skilled thieves often prey on travellers to steal their personal information and open bank accounts in their name.
Luckily, you can take proactive steps to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft as you enjoy your travels.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime within which a thief obtains and steals a person’s personal information to open accounts, get loans, or use credit cards in his or her name. Identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit score, bank accounts, and more.
If you’re traveling when the identity theft strikes, your bank accounts could easily be drained of money before you return, and you may find yourself stuck in a foreign country, without any money or credit cards to help you get home.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft: 7 Tips
If you’re planning a big trip, follow these seven pointers to protect yourself from identity theft.
1. Leave important but unnecessary items at home
Taking anything you don’t truly need on your trip only increases your chance of identity theft. For example, if you don’t need your iPad, but you bring it anyway, the chances of it getting stolen along with the sensitive data you have stored on it are much greater.
2. Protect your passwords and pins after a trip
If you’re one of the many people who uses the same password for several different accounts, it’s smart to reset all of your passwords and pins before you go.
To make them as secure as possible, use a service such as Dashlane to change your passwords automatically.
When you get home, be sure to change your passwords back so that they’re memorable and personal once again.
3. Stop your mail before you go
The threat of identity theft abroad isn’t only abroad. In fact, one of the biggest threats for identity theft is your mail at home.
As it piles up in your mailbox or on your front door step, it’s easy for a skilled identity thief to grab a personal piece of mail, like a credit card statement, and use it to open accounts in your name.
With this in mind, stop your mail before you go, or have someone stay at your home and bring it inside every day for you.
4. Use an RFID blocking wallet and anti-theft backpack
RFID scanning has gotten very advanced and, today, identity thieves can scan your credit card information remotely.
To protect yourself from this, get an RFID-blocking wallet like the Arizona Ziparound RFID Leather Secure Travel Wallet
To take your security a step further, get an anti-theft backpack to carry your items in as well.
5. Avoid internet cafes and hotel lobby computers
When you use a computer in a public place, it’s easy for someone to swipe your personal information as you enter it on a website. So while you are travelling, save your computer use for more secure locations.
6. Stay at hotels with safes
Many travellers have had their passports, personal identification, and money stolen from them whilst staying at sub-par hotels. You can protect yourself from identity theft by staying at hotels with safes, and storing your valuable documents in them.
At night, or whenever you leave the room, lock all of your valuables in the safe. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your personal items are secure and reduces the chance of identity theft.
7. Act fast if something goes wrong
As you travel, be sure to check your credit card statements on a regular basis. If you notice any odd charges or transactions, contact the company and let them know immediately. While it’s impossible to guarantee that you’ll prevent identity theft, it is possible to move quickly enough to mitigate the damage.
Traveling abroad is an exciting experience, and you shouldn’t have to worry about identity theft while you enjoy it.
With these seven tips, you can hopefully protect yourself from identity theft and enjoy your trip from a place of safety and security throughout.