Sunday, 3 July 2011

Equifax offers top tips on avoiding holiday time ID theft

The summertime brings thoughts of a couple of weeks in the sun, relaxing with a good book and a glass of something cool and refreshing, but ID theft and fraud expert, Equifax, is urging British tourists to be vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves from fraudsters whilst they are abroad.

“It’s great to kick back and relax on holiday, but fraudsters are ready to take advantage of that easy-going holiday spirit,” says Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director for Equifax.

“As well as taking credit cards, holidaymakers carry a lot of important personal information with them, including their passport and driving licence, making them prime targets for fraudsters. Holidaymakers need to be vigilant at all times and aware of the security of their personal documents and belongings.

“Brits abroad need to be aware of the increasing risks of ID theft and fraud, as the success of chip and PIN in the UK means fraudsters are targeting transactions in other countries. Equifax therefore urges UK travellers to use the same level of caution at home and abroad. Never let restaurant, hotel or shop staff go out of sight with your card and always check bank statements when you return home.

But it’s not just foreign holidays UK consumers need to worry about. Festivals are a big draw for music lovers over the summer months and can also present opportunities for fraudsters, so Equifax warns festival goers to take extra care with personal documents and belongings. A stolen mobile or smart phone can hold as much information as a wallet, storing a wealth of personal details for fraudsters to use.

“Holidaymakers should still relax and have a good time, but we’re highlighting the risks of ID theft so that they don’t take unnecessary risks with their cards and data,” adds Munroe. “Silly things like leaving a bag unattended on the beach or by the pool could give a criminal that vital window of opportunity. Our top tips remind people to take steps to protect themselves so they can enjoy their trip.”

An excellent way to keep an eye on your credit report and monitor any changes made on your report is to sign up for Equifax’s online Identity Watch. The Equifax Identity Watch Report alerts consumers to changes in your credit report so they can act before damage is done. Individuals simply log onto to understand their credit file and see what lenders see to assess new credit applications. It also includes expert tips and advice to help consumers take the right steps to manage and monitor their finances and navigate through life’s challenges.

Top Tips on How to Avoid Holiday ID Theft

• Don’t clearly display your home address on your luggage. Instead use a work address or mobile phone number.
• Use work addresses and mobile phone numbers when checking into a hotel.
• Keep your identification documents separate from your bank and credit cards.
• Only take credit and debit cards you are going to use.
• Don’t write down PINs – use a more memorable number.
• Keep your personal documents, such as your passport, in the hotel safe.
• Always keep your valuables on you at festivals and don’t leave them lying around or in your tent for people to steal easily.
• In crowds, keep your bag either strapped across your body or held firmly.
• A concealed money belt is an ideal way to carry your cards and valuables.
• Leave your passport number with someone in the UK in case it is stolen or lost. Don’t carry these details around with you.
• On the return home, check statements and your credit file for fraudulent activity.

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