7 Tips to Protect Your Identity While Traveling

Globally, an estimated 400,000 incidents of pickpocketing occur every single day.[1] Not only do you need to watch out for physical pickpockets, you also need to guard against digital pickpockets. Today, more international travelers lose digital information than money. [2] 

Don’t let pickpockets ruin your vacation. 

  1. Clean out your wallet or purse. Before you leave on any trip, remove personal information that isn’t necessary. Don’t travel with every credit or debit card you own. Unless you plan to visit ATMs, you may not want to carry a debit card, because they do not provide the same protection against fraudulent charges as credit cards. Leave your checkbook at home and obtain traveler’s checks if you want them. Before leaving, notify your credit card provider and/or bank.
  2. Carry the minimum in public. Leave your passport, extra credit card, and most cash in your hotel room safe. Carry a small amount of cash, one credit card, and one ID in public. Carry your wallet in your front pocket. Use a cross-body style purse and keep it closed. Consider keeping cash in a money belt under your shirt.
  3. Don’t look like a target. Pickpockets look for distracted, cash-laden tourists. Select clothing similar to what you see on local residents. Never wear clothing that says U.K., U.S.A., or Canada when you’re abroad—and that also goes for sports team jerseys and clothing from your alma mater. While walking around, try not to look overtly lost. Pull out maps discreetly, if you must.  
  4. Get strategic with zippers. It is much harder to unzip a pocket or purse than to just reach inside. That’s why pickpockets prefer loose-fitting clothing and wide-open bags.
  5. Carry a decoy wallet. In cities with high rates of pickpocketing or mugging, Carry an old wallet with an expired (closed) credit card and a small amount of cash. Hand it over if you are accosted.  
  6. Avoid digital pickpockets. If you need to visit an ATM, look for one inside a bank building. Look for a skimmer device before inserting your card. Consider using an RFID shielding wallet to protect your credit cards.
  7. Lock down your mobile devices. Before you leave, delete sensitive apps from your mobile phone, such as banking. Enable password protection on the phone and turn off automatic connection to WiFi. Use only your cellular data or private,password-protected WiFi on vacation. Do not use any open, public WiFi in airports, hotels, or restaurants. When you return home, change passwords on any apps you used while traveling. 

Rural Mutual Insurance Company understands your identity is your most valuable asset—that’s why we’re proud to provide you and your family members with identity protection services—at no additional cost. To learn more about digital defense tools to protect your personal information, contact your local Rural Mutual Insurance Agent.

[1] “How to Send the Pickpockets Packing,” Irish Examiner, June 9, 2013. 
[2] “Kaspersky Lab International Travel Report: The Urge to Connect at Any Cost is Putting International Traveler’s Data at Risk,” Kaspersky, June 28, 2016