Travel | Protect your personal identity while travelling

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Hiding our passports in a deposit box used to be enough to safeguard us while travelling abroad. Unfortunately, scammers are using more sophisticated ways to steal our personal identity.

Tourists have always been a prime target of thieves and opportunists. Today’s criminals, however, are more concerned about stealing our lucrative digital and financial identity.

Each year, thousands of travellers fall unconsciously victim to professional thieves that can now easily take our financial and personal information.

Unsecured internet connections, sharing credit cards with merchants that we know nothing of and carrying personal documentation with us at all times are just some of the ways we are vulnerable to such culprits when abroad.

There are some things we can do to protect our identity. Most of us carry cards detailing our personal information in our wallets, such as driver’s licence, social security card (pps details) and bank cards.

Declutter your wallet to only bring your primary bank cards that you will use while travelling. When venturing out on your travels, leave all of your important documents in a safe deposit box in the hotel. Unfortunately, hotel staff can often be the main instigators of such theft issues. Check all safety reviews before you book the hotel to ensure there has been no previous incidents.

Be careful when using the wifi in hotels and airports as they can have unsecured connections. If possible, avoid checking your online banking, work email or other sensitive accounts. Many thieves know that most of us only check our bank accounts on our return, at which time they have done most of the damage before it’s reported. Having a family member check your account every two days is the best way to spot and stop any fraudulent activity.

If you have to use a public computer, such as internet cafe, delete all cookies and browsing history before you log off.

A recent trend among identity thieves has been to install card readers in an ATM by which they can access your card number and PIN. This is most prevalent in non-bank ATMs, such as those in hotels or convenience stores. When taking out cash, only use the machines in recognised banks.