Slideshow 5 ways to keep your identity safe during spring break

  • March 12 2014, 3:31pm EDT
5 Images Total

1. Mail theft

"One way thieves get personal information is to steal it right out of your mail box," says Ann Cosimano, general counsel of ARAG. "Credit card invoices, bank statements and investment reports all contain account numbers that can be easily taken from a mailbox." Be sure to stop your mail, have someone else pick it up for you or start receiving all bills electronically, she suggests.

2. Dumpster diving

"Dumpster diving is when someone steals personal information from a dumpster or trash bin," says Cosimano. "When we travel it's easy to pitch credit card receipts into a waste basket, but it's essential to shred personal information when you throw it away. Make sure you tear up receipts or save them until you get home and can shred them."

Content Continues Below

3. Shoulder surfing

Take extra caution when checking in at a busy hotel, paying with a credit card at a popular restaurant or using the ATM when others are around you. "Especially while on vacation, stay aware of your surroundings and protect your information from anyone who may be watching you," says Cosimano.

4. Card skimming

Criminals can attach a skimmer to any ATM or payment processing machine and steal the information on your debit or credit card when you swipe one. Often used in combination with a concealed camera, thieves can also record your PIN as you enter it. Protect yourself by checking nearby objects for possible concealed cameras such as a box holding brochures or a nearby light fixture. Also check the card slot for a skimmer device, and don't use the machine if you suspect tampering.

Content Continues Below

5. Personal item theft

When traveling, take extra care to guard personal items such as a wallet or purse. Limit the number of credit cards you take with you and be aware of where you are at all times.