Tips to guard against ID theft while on vacation

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. –  As millions of Americans get ready to relax at the beach, visit theme parks, set sail on a cruise or explore exotic destinations this summer, AAA Tidewater Virginia is reminding travelers to take some simple precautions and prevent ID theft while on vacation.

Thieves can steal account numbers or other personal data enabling them to set up credit cards in another person’s name. The proliferation of mobile devices has provided another easy means for criminals to access personal data and steal thousands of dollars using other people’s identities.

Services that monitor users’ credit activities and assist in resolving fraudulent charges can be a huge help to consumers as ID theft crime continues to grow.

Additionally, AAA Tidewater advises the following precautions for travelers:

  • Stop your mail while you’re on vacation. Mail theft continues to be a common way for thieves to access personal data. Just call the U.S. Postal Service at (800) 275-8777 or visit their website here.
  • Protect portable electronics with passwords. While you’re out and about on a trip, there are more chances for criminals to take advantage of a couple of minutes of inattention on your part. Thieves need just a couple of minutes with a device to extract personal information, so set up your devices to automatically lock and require a password or passcode to reopen. Information services company Experian recommends using a seven-digit passcode instead of the typical four digits for smartphones and tablets.
  • Be cautious with navigation apps. Don’t store your home address in these apps – if your device is stolen and unlocked while on vacation or at any time, it’s an easy way for a criminal to access it. Instead, use a nearby public location as your “home address” on the app, allowing you to navigate home without risking your security.
  • Take care on public WiFi. You’ll likely be using more public WiFi spots than usual when you’re on vacation. Avoid conducting financial transactions of any type on public WiFi, because thieves can access them with “sniffers” and grab credit card numbers, account numbers and other personal information. If possible, use public WiFi networks that require a password to join. And if your signal strength allows, use your phone’s cellular data service instead of public WiFi.
  • Be prepared to erase your device remotely. If someone does steal your device, you’ll want to remove everything that enables them to assume your identity. Make sure you regularly back up your device online with a service like iCloud, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, so that you won’t lose anything and it can be restored on a replacement device. As soon as you know your device has been stolen, you should follow the procedures from the manufacturer to remotely wipe vital data.