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In today’s connected world, it has never been easier to travel and experience new places and cultures. With the rise of affordable air travel, we can fly anywhere at a price that wasn’t possible even a few years ago. 

Additionally, digitalization has made it possible for us to store a significant amount of personal and financial information online. As a result, we no longer need to worry about having the right paperwork and documents for travel, making travel even more convenient. 

But with every good comes the bad. The more your personal information is accessible online, the more likely you are to become a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft occurs whenever someone else uses your personally identifiable information (PII) without your permission and with malicious intent.

You may think that only naive people fall victim to identity thieves, but the unfortunate truth is that even the most cautious individuals are not immune to this risk.

So how do you protect yourself?

How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft While Traveling

Why Would Someone Steal Your Identity?

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The most common reason people commit identity theft is for financial gain. Criminals can take out loans and make purchases with other people’s credit cards.

According to experts, these incidents occur so often that there is a new victim every 22 seconds in the US. Additionally, one in five Europeans has experienced identity theft.

These statistics are worrying. But you don’t have to avoid traveling because of this. As long as you take precautions and understand how identity thieves operate, you can remain safe wherever you go.

Let’s take a look at some easy ways you can protect yourself while traveling so that your vacation doesn’t come with a high price tag.

Packing Smart is Key

The most frequent mistakes travelers make are overpacking and putting valuable items in unsafe places. Here are a couple of general suggestions to solve this issue:

  • Keep your wallet or pocketbook as small as possible. Bring no more than one or two credit cards. 
  • Personal documents should be kept in your carry-on luggage. Checked-in bags are not secure places to keep your credit cards, cash, and valuables.

Be Cautious With Unsecure Internet Connections

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The biggest threat to using public WiFi is the possibility of someone intercepting your data. If you’re using your phone for banking apps or transferring money overseas, it’s important that your personal details remain secure at all times.

The best way to protect yourself online while traveling is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

A VPN encrypts your internet traffic so that no one can see what sites you’re visiting or what data you’re sending and receiving. By using a VPN, you can safely use public WiFi connections without worrying about being hacked.

The simplest way to use a VPN is to install an extension to your browser or phone. For instance, you can get a special VPN for Chrome or a VPN for iPhone.

Take Care of ID Documents

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If you leave any vital papers lying around in your hotel room while you’re out, you’re much more likely to be a victim of identity theft than if you keep them in a money belt, document protector, or safe.

In addition to being careful with your purse or wallet, make sure that the person you are exchanging money with does not have an easy way to copy your ID or take a picture of it.

Always bring both your ID and passport with you. And if you make electronic copies, you will have a document as identification proof in case the other one is lost or stolen.

Use Only Bank ATMs

Identity fraudsters are increasingly installing card readers in ATMs to gain access to your card details and PIN.

This is especially common at non-bank, “generic” ATMs (such as those found in hotels and convenience stores), which have less monitoring and are hence more vulnerable than bank-run ATMs.

Stick with the ones at banks – they can still be hacked, but they are considerably less frequently targeted by crooks and have more sophisticated security.

Prepare Before You Leave

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Some of the most effective preventative actions may be implemented before you go on your vacation.

Making copies of your documents, calling your bank and letting them know you’re going overseas, and getting travel insurance are three main ways you can prepare before you leave.

In a nutshell, to protect yourself from identity theft while traveling, you have to take precautions before, during, and after your trip.

Although you should always be on guard, this does not mean that you should spend your time worrying about it constantly. Instead, you should make the most of your vacation by following these simple tips.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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