Going on holiday - keeping your identity safe
Holidays can be fun, but having your identity stolen while you’re away isn’t. Whether you’re relaxing or off on an adventure, you may run the risk of having your personal details compromised. This could lead to trouble for you, including financial problems like having your credit card cloned or loan applications made in your name. To prevent this from happening, take some steps to ensure that your personal details are safe from fraudsters.
Before going on holiday
Take precautions to protect your identity before you go on holiday. Some ways to do this include:
- Booking your holiday from a reputable provider
Whether you’re booking holiday accommodation, flights or vacation packages, make sure that you’re doing it through a trusted company that won’t sell or use your personal information for fraudulent purposes. Ensure that all payments are sent via secure methods.
- Telling your bank and credit card provider that you’ll be away
If you’re using your debit or credit card abroad, your bank or credit card provider may assume that your card details have been cloned by fraudsters, and cancel your cards while you are on holiday. Avoid this by letting them know in advance when you’ll be away. This way, they can also monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity.
- Making it look like you’ll still be at home
Arrange for someone you trust to collect your mail, so that it doesn’t look like you’re not at home. You may also want to install light timers so that it doesn’t look like you’re not around.
- Checking that you’ve set up passwords
Ensuring that digital devices like your smartphone, laptop or tablet are password protected, whether you’re taking them on holiday or leaving them at home
- Not sharing holiday plans on social media
It may be tempting to share details of your upcoming holiday on Facebook or other social media sites. However, you can’t always be sure who has access to your posts – even if they’re limited to trusted acquaintances, their accounts could be hacked. Try to save the sharing for after your get back from vacation instead.
When you’re on holiday
People tend to be more relaxed on holiday. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful with your personal information.
- Be careful with your passport
Fraudsters who gain access to your passport and the personal information within could use it to commit identity fraud. This can range from applying for financial products like banks accounts and credit cards, to getting a new driving licence or passport. Be aware who you give your passport to. Keeping photocopies of it may also help in case of an emergency.
- Use the hotel safe
If your holiday accommodation has a safe, you may want to use it to store your passport to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. You should also lock up any digital devices that you’re not bringing out with you, as these could contain personal information.
- Watch out for fake police
One type of scam involves fraudsters posing as police and asking for your passport. They may have accomplices trying to hand you illegal substances beforehand, so that they can claim to catch you in the act of doing something illegal. You may want to suggest calling the local police station to verify their identity.
- Be careful where you use your debit or credit card
Keep your cards with you on all times to prevent them being cloned. When making a purchase, consider using cash instead of handing over your debit or credit card to someone who could potentially make a copy of it. If you have to use a card, keep the receipt so that you can check if you’ve been charged for any purchases you didn’t make.
- Use secure Wi-Fi connections
Check to see if a Wi-Fi network is secure before joining it. Hackers could target your personal information on unsecure connections. Don’t use unsecure networks or public computers to look at personal or financial information – this includes on social media.
- Beware phishing emails
Jet-lagged vacationers are more likely to let their guard down. Identity fraudsters don’t take a break when you’re on holiday, so make sure that you watch out for phishing emails.
When you get back
Even if you take all of the necessary precautions, fraudsters may still find a way to gain access to your personal data. It may be useful for you to take a couple of steps when you get home from holiday to check that this hasn’t happened.
- Check your receipts
Reconcile your credit and debit card receipts with the relevant statements to make sure that no-one’s made any unauthorised purchases using your cards.
- Monitor your credit report
You may also want to check your credit report to see if there have been any applications for loans or other types of credit taken out in your name that you’re not aware of. The Equifax Credit Report & Score is free for the first 30 days, then £7.95 monthly.
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