Identity theft affects almost 15 million Americans a year, according to Summer vacationers are prime targets, usually because they are less guarded with their behavior both online and off.

When you’re out of town, you may not always get online using a secure wireless network. At home, mail and other deliveries can pile up, alerting scammers that you’re out of town. There’s also the chance that you could accidentally leave your wallet or phone unattended on your trip. Any of these scenarios is like Christmas morning for identity thieves.

The most common methods of identity theft arrive via stolen wallets and purses, mail theft, rummaging through your trash and stealing personal information from unsecured computers. Before you head out on that vacation, take some time to learn which risky behaviors can be avoided so that you can keep your personal information safe.

Methods of Identity Theft

Information from both your online and physical worlds are what the thieves are looking for. In some cases, your social networking status updates can be used to facilitate crimes. Never accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Strangers could be looking for your personal data and information about when you’ll be out of town. They might use your social networking status updates to know when it’s safe to break into your home. Have talks with your children about Internet safety.

Old-school methods like snooping, stealing wallets and rummaging through your garbage and mail for banking or credit card information are still used by thieves. Pickpockets still lurk on busy streets, in hotel lobbies, bus stations, cafes and anywhere there’s a lot of activity. Make sure you and your family stay vigilant even as you’re enjoying your vacation.

The Damages

Identity theft can lead to the loss of cash and valuables and result in damaged credit, lost insurance benefits and even a criminal record. These dangers are serious, and it could take years to clear it up

Precautionary Measures

Follow these tips to help keep your identity safe this summer:

1. Tell your kids not to post specifics about your travel dates on their social networking sites

2. Have a trusted neighbor collect your mail while you’re away from home, or put a vacation hold on it at the post office

3. Lock up your laptops and other valuables before you leave your hotel room

4. Don’t check your bank account or enter personal information on unsecured wireless networks in hotels or cafes. Make sure to log out of your accounts when finished, and avoid using pay-per-minute computers (these can be infected with spyware)

5. Subscribe to an identity protection service like Lifelock. You’ll receive alerts whenever suspicious activity is detected on any of your accounts.

If You Become a Victim

1. Contact bank and credit card companies to let them know your information has been compromised

2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports

3. File a report with the police


Rachel Morris

Rachel is a regular traveler who often takes her twin boys with her on backpacking and boating adventures. She regularly writes about vacationing with the family and how to have fun while being safe away from home.

Originally posted 2013-10-19 15:27:31.