Identity theft is quickly becoming a real problem – especially when more and more aspects of our lives seem to be moving online.  Identity theft can be devastating and sometimes damage is next-to-impossible to be corrected, such as bad credit.

How do you avoid identity theft while on the road?  Here are some quick tips.

Scan a copy of all of your identity documentation and credit cards, and store them safely before you leave home.  I tell people this advice all the time because it’s so dang useful – the hardest thing to replace is a passport, especially away from home.  Having a copy is so useful to prove who you are and expedite replacement.  While I probably shouldn’t make this suggestion in this context, I like to keep a copy of these things in my Dropbox, so I can access them  anywhere in the world.

Careful when working on public Wifi or Internet cafes.   We all know that we should be careful when on public networks, but are you being careful? Don’t log into your bank or other sites on a public computer if you can help it – and be sure to change passwords the moment you notice anything strange. Also look out for people looking over your shoulder – even if you’re just browsing Facebook.

Don’t broadcast your house is empty.  It sounds like a joke, but I know two different people who were broken in to after making such a big deal that they were away from home (and yes, their address and far too many details about said address were available online).  Sometimes, it’s not best to overshare.  Nothing worse than enjoying a holiday only to come home to a mess.

Secure your phone.  Our smartphones now give access to all parts of our lives, from email to banking and more.  Make sure that your phone has a secure pin code, and make sure that you’re familiar with any features your phone provider makes to “lock” your phone should it be stolen.  (Your phone company can turn off service, but a thief can still cause havoc.)

Use secure passwords that are not the same across websites.  Using the same passwords is easy, but every day a new company makes headlines as being hacked.  Do not use the same passwords between email, Facebook, banking, etc.  It’s not worth the risk – tools like LastPass can help you keep track of all those pesky passwords.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Clichéd old saying, but it’s true:  it’s much easier to prevent identity theft than to recover from it, and who wants to deal with all that hassle?  Should you become a victim, be sure to over-react and inform everyone, from your banks to credit card providers, so that you can beat those scammers to the punch.

For more information about identity theft, visit the Action Fraud website.

Photo by uros velickovic

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is based in sunny Portland, Oregon. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he works on his own lifestyle publication, Plum Deluxe.

Posted : Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 10:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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