Combating Identity Theft

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Combating Identity Theft

By Peter Greenberg

If you think identity theft can’t happen to you, think again. According to the FTC, as many as nine million American adults are victims of identity theft each year. That risk increases when you let your guard down, and unfortunately, that’s all too easy when you’re a frequent traveler.

My first rule is never put personal documents in checked luggage. Once you do that, you lose control over the security of those items.

Too many people forget that their hotel room is not a private space. One of the most common ways that thieves grab information is by going through your trash looking for personal information.

Consider using one of those privacy filters for your laptop, which blocks the screen from being visible to anyone sitting nearby on a plane or in other public areas.

This might be no-brainer, but most of us are guilty of leaving valuable information on our computers. Remember to clear your computer of automatic logins and saved passwords. If you must keep important information stored in your computer, consider encrypting the data. Never make credit-card transactions when using public Wi-Fi.

When you’re on the road, be on the lookout for electronic skimming devices that may be attached to an ATM. These devices can capture your account number and PIN, and are responsible for  as much as $1 billion in losses worldwide. It can be sophisticated equipment that’s hard to spot, especially when you’re dealing with an unfamiliar ATM.

Be on the lookout for any evidence of tampering like loose parts scratches, marks or adhesive residue. Stick with bank ATMs rather than gas stations, airports and convenience stores.

Bottom line: a little common sense goes a long way in combating identity theft.