Identity theft is an ongoing issue, but most people don’t think it will happen to them and don’t take simple precautions. It is said that you are 15 times more likely to have your identity stolen than to have your car broken into. Per CSID, an identity-protection provider, data theft exposure increases when traveling. For example, some crafty thieves gain access to your bank or credit card information by way of unsecured wireless networks and Bluetooth technology.
Speaking of technology, identity theft occurs more offline than online according to the National Crime Prevention Council – normally due to lost wallets, smartphones, and laptops. When traveling, the use of credit and/or ATM cards increases, as does the likelihood that such cards will be handled by unknown sources. A few years ago, I watched the following video about electronic pickpocketing and became aware of the theft potential due to the RFID signal coming from my credit cards and even my passport. It shocked me how easy my financial information could be stolen!
The idea of a thief being able to scan my sensitive data right off of my credit card – without touching it – brings a whole new level of worry. Before I left for my around-the-world trip, I purchased Stronghold Identity RFID sleeves for my credit cards and passport and ‘worry’ left as well.
More and more wallets, purses, and bags are coming equipped with RFID signal blocking, through retailers such as REI and Amazon. These are well worth the investment to provide you with an extra layer of protection against identity theft – and some peace of mind.
Roughly 140 million Americans traveled last year – opening themselves up to potential identity theft. The Consumer Sentinel Network reported that approximately 257,000 identity thefts occurred in 2010 with an average loss of $4,930 per incident! RFID blocking products are just one way to safe-guard your identity, but there are other ways – like surfing the web securely, using only credit instead of debit cards for purchases and using ATM machines with caution. Don’t risk your hard-earned vacation dollars; put a plan in place to protect yourself.
Jannell Howell is a lover of travel, habitual blogger, social media devotee and wannabe nomad who just finished an around-the-world journey that took her through parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, India, England, Italy and Spain. She classifies herself as a ‘flashpacker’ who enjoys staying in one destination long enough to experience a taste of local life.mWhile preparing for her own extended travels, she became a self-confessed ‘gear-ologist’ through (almost obsessive) study of travel-related gear & services. Jannell shares her journey and gearology finds on her blog, Traveljunkie’s World Tour. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.