It’s a nightmarish scenario for anyone: your personal information has fallen into the wrong hands and is now being used to do damage to your good credit and good name. What’s worse is that you are on vacation. Even if you’re only 500 miles away, it may as well be a million for all the good you can do while on the move. You are looking at an uphill battel to reclaim your personal security, which may involve hours of legwork on your part just to prove your own identity. Hours more will be lost to the process of canceling and reissuing your debit and credit cards, changing your passwords, and updating all of your financial accounts.
It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? According to the Bureau of Justice, over 17 million Americans were the victims of some form of identity theft last year. The Australian Government Attorney General’s Department shows as many as 9% of all of-age Australians have experienced the misuse of their private information. The numbers of identity theft victims are noteworthy from Bangalore to Bristow and the problem only seems to be growing. For those of us who love to travel, we often use our credit cards in new (and untrusted) locations, make extra purchases, and put ourselves at greater risk of becoming victims of identity theft as we move about and leave a paper trail behind us. In today’s world, we must now take the security of our personal information just as seriously as we take our personal safety when we travel. There are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure that, when and if the seedy underbelly of international crime comes snooping around for your personal information, you are prepared – no matter where in the world you are.
Tip Number One: Don’t Go It Alone
If you aren’t already signed up for some sort of identity protection service, you should really consider it. For a negligible fee, you can rest easy knowing that a team of dedicated professionals (and their algorithms) are monitoring your financial well-being while you are on vacation. There are a host of services to choose from, such as the ever-popular Life Lock, so choose the service that fits your needs and budget. If the worst-case scenario occurs and some ne’er-do-well does come off with your personal data, these services will help you minimize the damage, get your life back, and in some cases even help you recover any lost funds.
Tip Number Two: Find a Trusted Source
When you are traveling, you are exposing yourself to all sorts of new sites and experiences. That’s half the fun, of course, but it can also leave you venerable to attack. As you make your travel arrangements, wherever possible you should find a trusted third party or a reputable business to work with. When finding a place to stay on vacation, for instance, you should use only trusted sources. IVHE touches on the security issue in the “About Us” section; the added security of working through exchange contracts and using a trusted third party as something of a shield for your personal information can go a long way. This same principal should be applied whether you’re renting a car or buying a coffee – anywhere you exchange personal information. If you can’t verify that a source is trustworthy, when possible use cash instead.
Tip Number Three: Password Protect
This is a pretty basic tip at its core, but one that bears repeating! Always passwords protect your mobile devices, laptops, and really anything that is used to transmit your personal information. Be sure to change these passwords with some regularity as well, just in case something slips through the cracks. When you travel, you may have a tendency to hop on open Wi-Fi networks all over the place – from the airport to the corner café. You should curtail this practice here and now, since open networks are often a quick way for hackers to gain access to your mobile devices, and all of the juicy details about you contained within.
These are three relatively basic tips to protecting your identity on vacation, and they should serve as pillars for your personal identity defense system, whether you’re at home or traveling the globe. Enjoy your travels, but not at the expense of your personal security or safety. Make sure you take the extra second to think about whether you’re secure before you swipe, or you might find yourself making that frantic phone call to your bank back home.
Thank you to travel writer Emma Sledge.
NOTE: IVHE.com just upgraded to https for everyone’s peace of mind and security.