9 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft When You Travel and Help if It Happens
Having your identity stolen on a trip is probably not high on your list of major travel worries, but it should be. More than 400,000 items are pickpocketed everyday around the world, and many of those are IDs of some sort.
Do you know what to do if your identity is stolen when you travel – and do you know how to help prevent identity theft from happening? Our list of expert tips can help you keep your identity safe and help if your identity is stolen while you’re on vacation.
"Travelers should be especially aware of identity theft because they're usually carrying documents such as IDs and credit cards while traveling in unfamiliar places," advises Bob Chambers, travel insurance expert and consultant at Generali Global Assistance.
First, do you know what the top identity theft risks are when you travel? According to Generali research, it’s stolen passports, wallets, and credit cards. So obviously, your theft-prevention efforts should be centered around keeping those items secure.
Best ways to help prevent identity theft on vacation
1. Hang onto those important items
Seems to be really obvious, but the best way to not have your identity stolen is to not have your wallet, passport, or credit cards stolen. And awareness is the first step in making that happen.
Know where these documents are at all times. Be obsessive about it, but not to the point where you’re continually checking their location – by patting a pocket, for instance. Determine a secure location for these items, put them there, and be aware that they’re there. Check surreptitiously when no one is around.
For those obsessed with keeping their documents safe, consider a pouch or belt, or the “pickpocket-proof” clothing from Clothing Arts.
Video: How to Avoid Pickpockets on Vacation
2. Avoid public computers and Wi-Fi
A public computer or Wi-Fi network is a little like a sandwich you find laying on the street. You don’t know who had it, where it’s been, or how it got there. If you need to use a computer when you travel, bring your own, and if you can’t avoid public Wi-Fi, don’t do any online banking.
"Be cautious using free Wi-Fi hotspots because they might exist solely for the purpose of stealing personal data. Do not enter or access any of your personal information while on them. When traveling, the DSL connection in your hotel room is generally more secure," advises Paige Schaffer, CEO of Global Identity and Digital Protection Services at Generali Global Assistance.
One way to get safe Wi-Fi on a trip is with a device like Skyroam Solis. You can keep connected to the important people and information in your life without using risky public Wi-Fi networks when you travel. This secure Wi-Fi hotspot and powerbank will keep you online in more than 130 countries.
3. Consider a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure way for you to access the internet from anywhere. Many businesses have VPNs set up for their business travelers; if you’re traveling for pleasure and don’t have access to a business VPN, consider an app-based VPN like IVPN, SaferVPN or Nord VPN.
4. Clean out your wallet
If your wallet is typical, it’s jammed with multiple credit cards, a library card, a couple of discount cards, some nearly expired gift cards, insurance cards, and an obedience-school graduation photo of your neighbor’s dog. Reduce the contents of your wallet to what you actually need for your trip. Your pocket will thank you, too.
Also read: REAL ID and Flying - What You Need to Know
5. Let your credit-card company know you’re traveling
Call, email or visit your credit-card provider and let them know where you’re traveling and when. This will help them better identify suspicious charges.
6. Shred boarding passes
Boarding passes are storehouses of personal data that can be used to steal flyers’ identities. The best thing to do is shred boarding passes after they’ve been used – or better yet, download the airline app and store your boarding passes on your phone. Now all you have to do is remember to hang onto your phone.
7. Change passwords
Change sensitive passwords – for banks and credit cards, for instance – before you travel and again when you come back home. This will help deter identity thieves and give you some extra peace of mind as well. Just don’t forget your new passwords!
8. Be choosy about ATMs
Use ATMs in well-lit areas like airports or banks. Don’t use ATMs at night. Carefully inspect the ATM before using it, looking for possible cameras around key readers or overhead. Cover the keyboard with your hand when entering your PIN.
9. Check your credit score – before and after you travel
Sometimes your credit score will show identity theft before you even know it’s happened. You may also want to use an identity monitoring program to ensure your account numbers aren’t being circulated on the black web.
Video: What to do if you think you've been the victim of ID theft
Identity Theft Resolution
ID theft can happen to any traveler and fraudsters find more ways to steal information every day. Fortunately, Generali can help.
Generali travel insurance comes with 180 days of Identity Theft Resolution Services. Customers have access to this service on vacation and after their trip, in case they don't notice theft while they’re traveling.
The service will notify creditors about fraud, help cancel affected cards and issue new ones, report the fraudulent activity to local authorities and forward a report to creditors. In addition, Generali’s global 24/7 travel assistance services can notify banks or other agencies if an ATM card, passport or driver's license is stolen.
In addition, our travel insurance plans offer Travel Delay and Trip Interruption coverages. So, if you incur a documented theft of your passport during your travel dates, you can receive coverage for expenses associated with rescheduling your travel while waiting for your passport replacement and even be reimbursed for fees related to getting a new passport under Baggage coverage.
Following these tips can help you avoid the hassle and anxiety of ID theft on vacation. And, if you become a victim and have a travel insurance plan from Generali Global Assistance, you can rest easier knowing that you’ll have help resolving the situation.