Feature Article
Mark Pribish
Protecting Yourself from ID Theft While on Summer Vacation
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Now that June 21st - which is known as the Summer Solstice, longest day of the year, the first day of summer, and Father's day (when the third Sunday in June falls on the 21st day) - has arrived, it is a good time to think about the continuing trend and challenge of identity theft when most families in the United States are on summer vacation.

Most of you need to take extra precaution when leaving your homes on vacation as unsuspecting individuals and families have been targeted by identity thieves for years.

Here are some simple and easy steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft during the summer season. The following checklist can help protect you and your identity - as well as the identity of family members:

  • Newspapers deliveries - should be put on hold and/or designated for charity.
  • US Mail - should be put be on hold and/or arrange for your mail to be collected by a trusted family member, friend or neighbor the entire time you are away.
  • On-Sight House/Apartment visit - ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbor to stop by your house/apartment on a regular basis.
  • Continue using your landscaper, pool, and/or housekeeping services and ask them to pay special attention to the areas in and around your house.
  • When traveling on vacation use just one credit card and one debit card to minimize risk.
  • Keep all of your receipts and reconcile them with your credit and debit card statements when you return home.
  • Do not leave your drivers license or passport at a hotel front desk or with a tour operator as providing either identification number is sufficient.
  • Do not pay for gasoline at the pump. Always pay inside when possible, as your credit card information may be transmitted from the pump insecurely via a wireless connection, which thieves can and do tap into. Additionally, as I?ve mentioned in a past article, thieves also mount skimming machines to gas pumps to record your credit / debit card information as you swipe your card.
  • Never leave your identification documents or credit cards in the glove compartment or trunk especially when valet parking.
  • Use hotel safes and/or room safes to secure valuables while you are outside your hotel room as hotels will often insure personal documents and objects if they are somehow stolen when locked in a hotel safe.
  • Secure blackberries/cell phones, laptops, other electronic devices, passports, driver's licenses, and other documents that may contain personal identifying information that a thief could use.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Pickpockets view vacationers as an easy mark and can swipe your wallet, spending cash and your identity. Pickpockets are prevalent in nearly every major city and tend to target high traffic areas that attract business and vacation travelers.
  • Do not let your debit card out of your sight as unscrupulous waiter/waitresses can swipe your card without your knowledge for the purpose of fraudulent use.
  • In the event of a medical/dental emergency, do not give out your social security number or the social security numbers of family members - as your Medical Insurance information and Driver License information should be sufficient to receive treatment.

While these are just a few suggestions to protect against ID Theft while on summer vacation, education and awareness are the key to you and your family's safety along with minimizing potential ID theft events.

To read my past newsletters and for additional information on how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft please visit the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Scam Central

"In Store Scam"

Whether you're out back-to-school shopping or buying a new couch, you need to be aware of the following scams thieves are using to get a hold of your personal information.

How It Works:

Individuals identifying themselves as in-store security may request a customer's help in catching a bad employee. They ask for personal information or ask you to pre-fill out a credit application and then give it to the employee. The second form involves a thief who is watching a customer fill out a form or pay for a bill with a credit card. Just prior to the employee calling it in for approval, they call that clerk and ask the information stating that the card/application is from a thief.

Your Defense:

Make sure that any store employee who approaches you has proper identification and that if a call interrupts an employee during a transaction, that you check it out with store security immediately.

If you believe you've encountered or have been victimized by this scam contact your local law enforcement officials and call 1.866.SMART68 to speak to a Recovery Advocate.