Preventing Identity Theft while Travelling
While making domestic or international travels, there are certain security measures you should undertake. These measures apply equally to all trips whether long or short. The objective is to ensure that your personal information remains safe. It also prevents the possibility of identity theft. Currently, travel requirements have increased. You are now required to go through thorough security checks and have relevant travel documents before you can transit through airports. Despite the fact that these requirements may have made travelling less convenient, it has not affected the rate at which people travel.
As these changes take place, you must keep up with them. They are only meant to protect you from incidents such as terrorism and identity theft. The legal environment cannot remain static and that is why the society must be at par with legal measures undertaken to fight the vice of identity theft. The fact that most people are now aware of the threat posed by identity theft, have acknowledged it is proof that some progress is being made to control it. Moreover, stringent laws are being drafted and implemented to empower and protect consumers.
Fortunately, legislation to counter identity theft is created on a piecemeal basis. This has ensured that it addresses specific identity theft aspects. Besides, the laws are enacted on a state by state or country by country basis. Consumers should be conversant with these changes as it will empower them to know their rights. On the other hand, this will help in understanding the responsibility placed on people or institutions they share personal information with. Terrorism remains a major threat to the integrity of personal identity. It has now become evident that acts of terrorism rely heavily on theft of personal identity details from innocent people.
Past acts of terrorism have been executed on the fringes of identity theft. On their part, governments have been actively fighting these organized groups by stifling their sources of funds. Little wonder then that terrorists have resorted identity theft as a new way of funding their activities. In the wake of such threats, you must realize that your personal information is at a very high risk. Therefore, as you travel, you should take the following tips, recommendations and security information seriously:
- Keep sensitive information to yourself: Avoid sharing sensitive details about yourself in public. You never know who could be listening and waiting to take advantage of it.
- Always leave your car at a safe parking lot: Wherever you park your car, whether at a public or private parking lot, ensure that it is safe. Never leave any documents you consider to be important inside your car. Often times, people make this mistake by leaving documents in their cars. The misconception is that it is safe to do so. Always remember that if your car is at risk of being broken into, your documents are also at risk.
- Personal documents: If you are staying in a hotel, you should not leave such documents in your room. The fact that you have booked a room for several days does not mean that you leave your passport on the desk or drawer when going out. Request for a safe deposit box from the hotel and put your documents there.
- Computers: Unless you know how to secure it properly, do not put valuable information about yourself on computers or laptops. In most cases, people place sensitive information on laptops. They then carry these laptops to public places like coffee shops, restaurants and bars. You need to understand identity theft risks associated with doing so and address the security concern appropriately.
- Travel light: When travelling, desist from the temptation to carry all personal information. Take only a few credit cards that you consider to be absolutely necessary. The same should apply to travelling documents.
- Make copies: Make photocopies of your travel documents. Go further and scan your passport and/or birth certificate. Save these scanned copies on email as this can be accessed from any part of the world. In as much as passport photocopies may not be accepted, bringing them along will help expedite your case faster in the event that you lose your passport or it gets stolen. If the situation allows you to, carry photocopies and leave originals behind.
- Be alert at all times: When you need to access some cash at an ATM, always ensure that it is safe to do so. At the same time, while shopping at a store and paying by debit/credit card, make sure no one is watching as you enter your PIN number. Consider covering your hand as you key in your secret code. Never feel embarrassed at the prospect of being secretive and watching over your shoulder as you type password on a laptop or other communication devices. After all, it is the integrity of your personal information that is at stake.
- Lost or stolen passport: In the event that you lose your passport or it gets stolen, you should know what to do. Act immediately to prevent your identity from being stolen. During your travels, you should always be ready for any eventuality that things could go wrong. Have an alternative plan that will see you get a replacement of lost documents so as not to interrupt your itinerary. As was earlier mentioned, make copies of your passport, birth certificate and credit cards. Note the phone numbers of your credit card providers as well as contacts of your country’s embassy. Such details can be very helpful especially when you lose a passport of credit card. Never panic, simply put your contingency plan into action.
- Avoid placing travel documents in check-in luggage: You should not put your travel documents inside your check-in luggage. Doing so exposes you. Despite the fact that airport security has improved tremendously, there have been reports of airport employees going through people’s luggage and stealing some items. On the other hand, you have heard of lost luggage only for it to appear at an airport thousands of miles away. Never trust airport security blindly. They too are humans and there could be some rotten elements among security staff or airport service providers.
- At the gym: While visiting the gym or health club, do not leave your personal items at the reception. Leave them at the safe deposit box back at your hotel.
- Use of security travel purses: Security travel bags, money clips, travelling purses and money belts are some of the accessories you can use to prevent loss of personal documents. Shop around before your travel date and find an appropriate accessory to keep your documents safe.
- Travel advisories: Keep updated with travel information provided by your government before making an overseas trip. Usually, this information is posted on the government’s website and other relevant sites. If you find any information that raises concern, change your plans and prepare to travel at another date when it is appropriate to do so.
- Personal belongings: When travelling by air, keep your personal luggage in the overhead compartments. To be able to keep an eye on it, choose a compartment located on the opposite side of your aisle. This keeps you on the alert and you can detect or notice any untoward attempts to interfere with your luggage. During long flights, people tend to frequent overhead compartments in an attempt to retrieve or put back items. Someone may pretend to be looking for something only to open your luggage and steal items from it.
- Keep your personal items in line with the security chain: For instance, while undergoing an airport security chain, be systematic. If you are travelling together with your family, let them go through the scan process first. You should be the last one to be scanned before presenting travelling documents last. This ensures that in case there is a delay in body scanning, your documents do not leave your sight and be exposed to identity theft.