According to the recent Federal Trade Commission report on consumer fraud and identity theft, identity theft was the number one reported crime in 2009, representing 21 percent of all consumer reports. In that report, Florida, Arizona and California were noted as having the most victims per capita, with California and Nevada rounding out the Top 5.
Credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft at 17 percent, followed by government documents/benefits fraud and phone or utilities fraud, both of which saw percentage increases over the prior year; from 15 percent to 16 percent for government documents fraud and from 13 percent to 15% for phone or utilities fraud.
You don’t have to become a victim when you travel, however. Travelers can reduce their risk of falling victim to identity theft by following a few simple tips.
• Forward your mail to the post office. You can put your mail on postal hold while you are gone so that bills and other documents with personal information do not stack up for thieves in your mail box. Also, avoid letting the post office know you are on vacation so that postal clerks will not be aware. You can just say your week is busy if a reason is asked of you.
• Limit your bag tag information. Consider using a work address for a travel bag, and keep your personal information to a minimum. A lost tag or bag can alert a thief to your address and vacation status.
• Be cautious of public Internet stations. While it may seem convenient to check your e-mail and surf away at the airport or at an Internet café, savvy criminals may be watching and waiting to capture your information.
• Clean out your purse and wallet. Only take information with you that is absolutely necessary. It’s best to leave all cards with a social security number on them at home.
• Use your hotel safe. A suitcase is not a security device. Identity theft experts encourage travelers to put anything valuable, including laptops that could contain personal information, in a hotel safe.
You can also add an extra layer of protection for your travels and everyday living by enlisting a services like Tempe-Arizona based LifeLock® - www.LifeLock.com – an industry-leading identity theft protection company.