Published April 13, 2011
Your plane has landed, you've checked into your hotel and you're ready to begin your vacation or business trip. But, that doesn't mean you're safe. From identity theft, that is.
No. 1: Never leave anything unattended. It seems simple, but even the most seasoned traveler can have their bags or wallets stolen or left behind in seconds.
"People assume that when you're traveling you are completely distracted from what you should be doing," Levin said. "So on the road, never leave anything unattended." Chances are you won't get it back.
No. 2: Choose ATMs wisely. Always be wary of standalone ATM machines, Levin said. If they are not in a bank, or attached to a bank, it's harder to tell if an ATM is being watched through hidden cameras, or if someone is shoulder surfing you for your information.
"Also jiggle the front of an ATM machine," he said. "You may feel its loose right where you insert the card. If it's loose, run." This can be a phony machine that will steal your information.
No. 3: Find secure Internet connections. When you are away from home, always make sure the Internet connection you're using is secure, Levin said. Also, clear your history when you're done and make sure your passwords are strong.
"You don't want your history to be sitting there, because someone might be really good at figuring out passwords," he said. "Make sure you use words with symbols, numbers, upper and lowercase and punctuation for passwords. Don't share passwords between your e-mail, social networking and bank accounts either."
No. 4: Use the hotel safe. Never leave any personal information or your computer out in your hotel room, Levin said.
"Too many people work in hotels that float in and out," he said. "You can never be too sure, and the best way to eliminate that possibility is to put everything in the hotel safe."
No. 5: Check your accounts, and then check them again. When you are away find a secure connection to check your credit card statement and bank statement every day to make sure they are free from suspicious activity. Then when you get home, check everything again, including your credit reports, Levin said. Even if you don't see any odd transactions, that still doesn't mean you're safe.
"IDs and currency are evergreen, and these guys are very patient," he said. "They may do nothing with it for several months. They want you to not even remember something strange that may have happened when you were away, because that is their best chance."