7 On Your Side

Avoiding id theft on vacation

Friday, July 20, 2012

Vacation season is here, and it can be easy to let your guard down and forget some of the precautions you take at home to protect yourself from id theft.

Leave your cares, not your wits at home because targeting tourists is what security experts call a cottage industry.

"Identity thieves take advantage of distraction and there is probably no other time during the year that you're more distracted than when you're on vacation," Adam Levin said.

The founder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911 stresses vigilance while travelling beginning with the smallest details, like what you throw away in the hotel trashcan.

"There is a great deal of personal id info on things like airline receipts hotel confirmation receipt for credit and debit cards," Levin said.

Every clue is a piece of the puzzle a thief can use to recreate your identity. Rip up receipts, put boarding passes in the safe and take paperwork home with you.

If you're updating people at home on your fabulous adventures or conducting business, don't do it on shared hotel computers or public Wi-Fi.

"They're vulnerable. And the fellow sitting 3 tables away from you at that Starbucks may be your unauthorized biographer, you just don't know it. And that person can end up costing you a lot of money," he said.

Be careful what you post on social media, it's a red flag you're not at home.

Do flag your bank that you'll be making charges in a different city. That way your purchases won't be declined.

Before you leave home remove unneeded credit cards and personal info from your wallet. Don't carry all of your cards and cash in one place.

"Weed your wallet when you take a vacation. Take two debit cards, two credit cards and then take one of each and put it in a hotel safe. Not even in the safe in your room. Put it in a hotel safe because if you lose either your credit or your debit card while you're waiting for it to be replaced, you actually have an alternative as opposed to being trapped," Levin said.

Levin says be on the lookout for tiny test charges on your card. A charge of a dollar means a thief is testing your account to see if it's active, before draining your account. Also avoid stand-alone ATMS. They are more likely to have a skimming device that an ATM at a bank.

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id theft, identity theft, vacation, 7 on your side, nina pineda
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