Identity Theft: It Can Happen While You’re On Vacation

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 10:35 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction

It makes sense that winter is one of the most popular travelling seasons for Canadians. As the temperatures freefall, the winds howl, and the snowflakes accumulate, the idea of leaving the GTA for warmer climates is an appealing proposition. Attractive enough that many of us book flights despite the dismally low Loonie.

Unfortunately, those of us who book our mid-winter vacations are at a greater risk of identity theft.  When we escape the cold for the heat, our guards are down and we rely more heavily on credit cards—making us prime targets for criminals. If you have plans to see other parts of the world in the upcoming months, take a moment to read our tips on how to prevent identity fraud from happening to you.

Digital Devices

Even if your plans include disconnecting from the daily grind to soak up some sun and sip on a piña colada, chances are you’ll bring a few devices with you. In fact, it’s a rarity now to go on holiday without a smartphone, a tablet, or even a laptop.

If you plan on packing these electronics with you, be sure to use them wisely. You have a lot of secure data stored on these devices, including banking apps, financial information, emails, passwords, and other personal information like photographs. Don’t connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, as these public networks don’t have the security that’s required to keep your information safe. All it takes is someone with the skill and desire to hack these connections to access your stored data, so only use secured Wi-Fi from sources you trust, like your hotel.

If you’re one of the few people who do, in fact, leave their devices at home don’t use a public computer to check-in with the folks back home or to post a few pics of your trip. You can never be certain about what’s been installed on these computers, and they may have programs that store your passwords. Keep your use of these public computers to simple Internet searches of the area to help improve your trip, and never log into any of your financial or social media accounts.

Security Boxes

When we go travelling, we tend to bring a lot of stuff with us, and some of it is highly confidential. Our wallets (full of credit cards, debit cards, and cash), passports, and electronic devices are just a few of these items. Many of us make the mistake of leaving these items out in the open in our hotel rooms, assuming that it’s a secure space. Unfortunately, there are some people who will take advantage of your trust. Remove the temptation by storing these essential items in a safety deposit box or a security box. If your hotel room can’t supply this kind of security, the next best thing is to keep them on your person at all times, using hidden belts to carry your money and documents.

Your Wallet

Much of what your wallet contains doesn’t have to go on holiday with you. Back at home, you’ll have your full range of credit cards, as well as your OHIP and possibly SIN cards tucked away in its folds. Before you go away on your vacation, be sure to remove these additional cards from your wallet, storing them in a safe place. Keep only the cash and the one credit card that are essential for your trip.

In terms of credit cards, luckily most financial institutions don’t need to be advised of your trip anymore, but it’s a good idea to double check the terms of your card just to be sure. When your bank is aware of your plans, your account won’t raise any flags once it starts being used in a foreign country. However, this does meant that unusual purchases won’t be deemed noteworthy by your bank.

In that case, it’s important that you use your credit card sensibly. Use caution when using ATMs, avoiding those that are unattended without any surveillance. If you must take out cash, use those that are in banks or that have security guards attending them.

These simple yet effective precautions will prevent your fun in the sun from taking a sour turn. As you plan out the details of your trip, don’t forget to notify us if your vacation overlaps with our scheduled document destruction appointment. Just give us a call and we’ll rearrange a better time once you’re home and recovered from your holidays. In the meantime, have a pleasant trip and we’ll see you when you get back!

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