Identity theft has become a real problem for law enforcement as well as everyday citizens. In fact, every year, over 12 million Americans report their identity being stolen. This number only increases when we begin to travel abroad. The following list entails some of the ways this can happen to you and the options that you have if it does.
How it Happens
When it comes to physical and digital thefts, tourists are vulnerable. This is because tourists must travel with a large amount of sensitive data on them such as passports, birth certificates or other forms of ID. Another reason why travelers are more prone to being victims of identity theft is that they are often unable to use their regular mobile phones. They instead rely on unsecured internet sources to visit their bank’s website and other sensitive pages.
How to Protect Yourself
Despite all these situations, people do have options to lower the chances of falling victim to this crime. One of the ways is to simply leave most of your sensitive documents at home. In most areas of the world, you do not need to carry documents such as a social security card. You may also consider purchasing travel insurance or simply avoid using credit cards altogether. When it comes to safe transactions, it does not get any safer than regular physical cash. If you do want to use credit cards, however, travel insurance can help protect your identity—depending on your insurance plan.
If You’re a Victim
In the unfortunate case that you do fall victim to identity theft, prepare to make a lot of phone calls and emails. The first step you need to take is contacting the three major credit reporting agencies and placing a “fraud alert” on your credit report. Doing so can really help you avoid more problems down the road, as it can prevent thieves from opening accounts in your name. Immediately begin to freeze all your accounts to prevent identity thieves from using your funds or personal information. Finally, contact your identity theft insurance provider (if you have one) and begin to work with them to minimize the damage.
Identity theft is one of the hardest things to fight after it happens to you, but you do have a good number of options to protect yourself. In the case of an attack on your identity, consider filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission. They might not be able to help you with your situation, but it allows them to receive information about these attacks and hopefully find the people responsible.
Read more here about other safety tips for travelers!