Millions of people become a victim of identity theft on the internet every single year. The economic damage, especially for each individual, is extraordinary high.
Understanding what identity theft is, how it is stolen and how it is used is very important. Even more important is that you start to protect yourself against it to avoid any serious consequences.
What Is Identity Theft
Identity theft is a fraud/crime in which a person pretends to be someone else in order to take an advantage for a fraudulent personal gain. Any data that could potentially identify you as a specific individual and distinguish you from others can be used as an identity fraud.
Key data includes Passport details, Credit Card details, Social Security numbers, Driver Licenses and many more.
Types of Identity Theft
In general, there are two types of identity theft: The true name identity fraud and the account takeover identity theft. The imposter might either take your personal information to create new accounts for a credit card, phone services or anywhere else to gain a financial advantages or the imposter will take over one of your existing accounts.
Usually, in an account takeover, the thief will change the email address associated with the account and spend a great amount of money. Until you realize that there is a problem, it is already too late. It can be used to order the newest gadgets on Amazon over to gain actual government benefits.
Identity Theft Techniques
I will not go into details but here are a few examples:
- The imposter will go through your personal trash to find personal paperwork and discarded mails – at home or at your workplace
- The imposter will stand next to you while filling out personal information on an application form at the government office
- Phishing and spam emails are still common and contain malware that are designed to steal personal data from your computer
How To Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Here are a few signs to realize, hopefully early enough, that your identity has been stolen
- You get notified from a company that your data belonged to a data breach. You can check it here
- You get rejected from a health plan because your medical records indicate an issue that you don’t have
- You receive wrong charges on your monthly credit card report
- You discover withdrawals from your bank account that you have not made
Think about how many companies you have given your details already. Every single app, every booking of an airplane, ordering food or shopping online. Even usage of a free trial on a website. While technology made so many things easier for us, we become more and more thoughtless about whom we are actually giving our data.
Be aware that not even the big companies are safe from data breaches. Tesco, Yahoo, British Airways and many more big corporations have been falling victim to a data breach already. What about the small companies? They are not newsworthy but probably had some leaks.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, just in America, 2016, over 15 Million identities have been stolen with an economical damage of $16 billion. That an average of $1,039 loss for each individual.
How Does It Affect You As A Traveler?
Most times, a traveler can be easily identified and one can assume that they must have sensitive documents in their bag. Passport, Credit Card, Health Insurance Plan can be easily used to be exploited.
What has changed is the enormous growth of public available free WiFi’s which are incredible insecure but convenient to use as a travelers as you don’t want to receive high roaming charges. Personal information stolen while you are traveling does not just only impact your travels.
It has much further reaching consequences that go far beyond your vacation dates. According to the survey from Experian, for 55% of the travelers ,whose identity was stolen, it took one week up to one year to solve the issue regarding the identity theft.
Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
There are many far-reaching ways to avoid individual identity theft but you should not start to be paranoid about it. The easiest but effective ways to protect yourself are:
Improve & regularly change your passwords:
Create passwords with random numbers and letters and avoid using the same one for different accounts. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, you can use LastPass. It securely stores all your accounts and relating passwords safeguarded with one single master password that you created
Care about your social media:
Please don’t enter mindlessly all your personal information onto your social media account such as birthday, address and phone number. Change your privacy settings so it may only be visible to your close friends
Get to know the signs of phishing emails / calls:
Educate yourself about how phishing is structured, so that you can recognize those attempts in the future easily. You can read about it here
Monitor your financial statements:
Review your bank account charges. If you see any suspicious activity, please contact your bank to clarify the situation.
Get a travel insurance:
Over the last decade, travel insurance with theft-protection have become available. You can read more here to find out how to find the best travel insurance for you
Last but not least:
Whenever you are traveling, always keep important documents close to you. You don’t need to take your social security number with you all time. Rather use cash than taking the risk to get your credit card stolen. Get rid of ATM statements, old receipts or any other document that will clearly show your identity.
Other Ways To Protect Yourself
As convenient as it sounds, please avoid the free WiFi’s at your favorite McDonald’s or any other available WiFi accessible to the public. Knowledgeable thiefs can easily steal virtually your private data. If you must use them, then only with extreme caution.
Whenever you are using a friends, strangers or library computer, only operate in the ‘incognito mode’ and don’t save your passwords on there. Learn how to use it with Chrome here . After you are done with your session, clean the search history and delete all the cookies.
Get Your Personal 4G Hotspot
The safest option to keep your data secure abroad while traveling is by using your own personal internet hotspot. It is password-secured and only you can connect to the internet wherever you go. No more public WiFi! Here at My Webspot we offer up 1GB daily in 100+ countries to provide traveler’s with a secure internet option.
You can travel to Europe, Asia, America & Africa. Our rates are fair & low and will help you to avoid expensive roaming charges if you want to avoid the freely available, but very slow WiFi options abroad. You can connect up to 5 devices with a connection speed of up to 4G. Stay secured, enjoy your travel & keep your identity.