San Diego, CA (PRWEB) May 27, 2008
Summer is in the air and many hard working Americans are planning out their vacation weeks for some well deserved rest and relaxation in a warm vacation spot. Many travelers are unaware that their sunny and warm vacation spot can be a hot bed for identity theft and fraud. Identity thieves exist all over the globe, but have been known to target unsuspecting and vulnerable tourists, who are loose with personal information.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. The Federal Trade Commission estimated that consumer fraud and identity theft cost Americans $1.2 billion in 2007, and the statistics and victims are only increasing.
If you are planning on a summer vacation in the following states, be sure to take every possible precaution to keep your identity and finances safe. These are the top ten states for identity theft per capita basis.
6. New York
9. New Mexico
Source: Consumer Sentinel
The metropolitan areas with the highest per capita rates of reported identity theft are Napa, California; Madera, California; and Greeley, Colorado but many other locations outside of the US are ripe with pickpocketers who can not only swipe your spending cash but also your identity. Do not let identity thieves ruin your vacation and your credit. Travelers can protect themselves and greatly reduce their chances of theft by following the advice below.
Hotel safes- If you plan on brining personal information with you on vacation, a good idea is to use hotel safes. Lock up all valuables in room safes while you are out on the town. Include laptops, passports, receipts, and other documents that may contain personal identifying information that a thief could use. Suitcases can be easily picked or cracked open, a hotel safe is a much safer bet for safeguarding your information, and also hotels will often insure personal documents and objects if they are somehow stolen when locked in a hotel safe.
Pickpockets and travel pouches- Pickpockets are prevalent in nearly every major city and tend to target high traffic areas that attract business and vacation travelers. Many studies indicate that wallets stolen in tourist spots frequently lead to identity theft, which can cost you much more than your spending cash. To guard yourself against pickpocketers, do not carry any unnecessary documents in your wallet. Leave all cards with Social Security Numbers on them at home or in your hotel safe. If necessary, carry your personal documents in a different pocket then your wallet. It goes without saying, never leave your wallet or purse unattended even for a second.
Thieves have been known to target women with loose, dangling purses. Lost out-of-towners or foreigners carrying a lot of cash, and parents distracted by their kids or babies, so stay alert. Leave bills at home- Travelers often take advantage of quiet evenings and downtime in hotels to catch up with bookkeeping and paying bills. Many vacationers and business travelers forget that many people have access to your hotel room. Victims have reported that account information and check information has been stolen from hotel rooms. Leave your bills at home. You are on vacation anyway, save the number crunching for your return.
Using rental computers- If you are using Kinko's computer rentals and other cyber cafe computers while on the vacation, it is essential that you protect your personal/financial/password information. At several Kinko's in the New York City area, a cyber-scammer installed software that recorded the keystroke information gathered from people using the computer rentals and was able to obtain the personal information of 450 people. Avoid performing any financial transactions or accessing personal information on rented computers. If you need to access and use a password protected account from a rental computer you should cut and paste the password from a word document where the password is in the middle of random characters. This can make keystroke recording difficult for scammers.
These are just a few tips we recommend to keep your identity safe when travelling. A vacation should be a relaxing time but do not be lazy in protecting yourself from identity thieves. Remember according to the FTC, 52% of identity theft victims detected fraudulent activity by reviewing their own credit reports. Purchasing a credit report and credit monitoring services from a reputable credit reporting company, is a great way to keep an eye on your credit and quickly identify and address any fraudulent charges.
For more information on identity theft and credit reporting visit us at My Private Credit