There has been an increasing case of identity theft as years go by. This seems to go alongside with the advancement of technology as we are posting our personal information to various social websites and thus becoming available to waiting fraudsters online. There were also some cases were some information were also taken from stolen ATM cards, credit cards, passports and other IDs.
According to some cases, stolen personal information is often used to scam the owners financially or use their identity to do financial transactions with their banks and other merchants thus putting all the blame on the owner of the stolen identity. Some identities were even used in weirder ways – check this article from Wired about Creepiest Cases of Identity Theft.
Frankly it’s quite scary, especially if you’re traveling as you’re very susceptible to losing your personal stuff as you move from one place to another. Here are some tips that can help you prevent identity theft while traveling.
1. Take Care of Your Mailbox Before You Leave: You could either ask your post office to hold all your mails while you’re away or you can ask your trusted neighbor or relatives that live near you to gather your mails as they come by.
2. Bring only a Few Cards: You can just bring two credit cards or two ATM cards when you leave for a trip. One of the cards will serve as your main and the other as a backup. If you have more than two cards then you can either cancel the others or suspend them for the time being that you’re away. Different banks have different policies when it comes to suspending a card so call your bank to get more information about this.
3. Make an Inventory of Your Personal Items: If you’re already traveling, make sure to make a small inventory of what you have and check them before you pack for your next destination. This is to ensure that you don’t leave anything behind. Your main priority in you inventory should be your passport and bank cards.
4. Use RFID Blocking Wallet: Some fraudsters are so hi-tech that they’re capable of scanning your info just by being close to you. A great way to prevent this is by using RFID wallet. It blocks the scanner from getting information from your cards and passport.
5. Be Wary of ATMs that you Use: There have been cases in some places where ATMs have been tampered by some fraudulent groups and then installed a card scanning device to get the information from your card and then a camera on top to capture your pin. These devices will surely become more sophisticated and harder to detect in the future so be sure to keep yourself updated will information on this one.
6. Shred Old Bills That Contains Personal Info: Before you dispose old bills or any other documents that have your personal details, shred it or tear it to pieces especially the part where your name, address and other info are written. Do the same for old cards that you’re not using anymore, before you dispose them, shred them or cut them into pieces.
Shredded Paper by Sh4rp_i (Flickr CC)
7. Report Lost Card/Passport/ID Immediately: In case you lose an ATM or credit card, report it immediately to your bank so they can put it on hold and replace it. In case you lose your passport or ID, report it immediately to the nearest embassy if you’re abroad. Also get an Affidavit of Loss as a proof/documentation that you really lost your card/passport.
8. Be Aware of Email Scams: Some identity theft happens right where you are through our laptops or smart phones. Do not open the attachments of emails coming from people you don’t know. I write a separate post about this and you can check it here.
9. Use VPN/Anti-Virus/Malware Protection: As I’ve mentioned before, some identity thefts happened through our own laptops and smart phones. Install a VPN to add another layer of protection. You could also install anti-virus/malware protection programs to prevent unscrupulous programs from being downloaded and executed in your gadget.
Laptop by Penningtron (Flickr CC)