Top Ways To Keep Your Identity Safe in Europe
Nothing can ruin your dream European vacation like suddenly being unable to verify your identity. Unfortunately, identity theft increases worldwide every day.
According to Experian, pickpockets aren’t just after your money anymore. They’re looking for the more valuable goods in your wallet: your driver’s license and your social security number.
Fortunately, you don’t have to lock the doors and never leave the home again. You can still safely travel the world by taking some simple but crucial steps to protect yourself and your information.
Where You’re Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft
According to a study conducted for PayPal by Ipsos, your information is actually at it’s least secure in areas of heavy e-commerce, such as the United States. Other English-speaking countries, Canada and the United Kingdom, were also shown to experience high-levels of identity theft. Conversely, France, Germany, and Spain experienced significantly less. Germans, in fact, had the lowest-rate of identity theft in the study.
As e-commerce increases in Europe and across the world, identity thefts will likely increase. However, it’s important to note that Europeans tend to be more careful with important information than Americans do. Nicole van der Meulen of the International Victimology Institute explains in The Police Chief journal that European governments regulate the data that businesses are able to collect, which results in fewer incidents of compromised data. The United States, on the other hand, doesn’t heavily regulate such practices.
Protecting Your Identity Before You Travel
Although European vendors may use and keep less of your information, this doesn’t mean your identiy isn’t at risk when you travel. Travelers are targets for theft even in relatively safe areas. Here are some tips to consider before and during your trip.
- Empty your wallet. Bring one or two credit cards; leave checks, grocery store reward cards, debit cards, and social security cards at home in a locked safe.
- Consider subscribing to an identity theft protection service such as Lifelock, if you haven’t already done so. Companies such as Lifelock monitor the use of personal information and can put an end to problems quickly.
- Scan the photo page of your passport before leaving. Email a copy to yourself, and send a copy to someone you trust who will stay home so they can retrieve information for you later if needed.
Protecting Your Identity During Your Trip
- Derek Skinner of Absolute Software, in an article featured on the Female First website, suggests keeping your electronic devices away from the view of others as much as possible- but don’t check them with your baggage. Instead, keep them with you.
- Don’t leave sensitive documents or electronic devices unattended in the hotel room. Lock them in a safe.
- If you must carry a bag with you, use one with straps that cross your body.
- Pay the bills before you leave. It’s tempting to bring them along to work on, but these also contain sensitive information.
Keeping Your Identity Safe
Whether you’re traveling or staying home- it’s important to keep your information safe. At home you can shred sensitive documents and choose secure passwords. As you travel, minimize the amount of information you expose, and physically protect your credit cards and important documents. Services such as Lifelock, is always an option regardless of your situation. The important thing is to simply protect your identity and your peace of mind.