Sun, Sea, Sangria and ID thieves

Online credit report service MyCallcredit is urging holiday-makers to take precautions and safeguard their personal information whilst abroad to avoid having their identity stolen.

Most people think of identity theft as something that tends to happen in this country and shredding household bills is an effective way of reducing risk. However, fraud committed abroad on UK cards amounted to £82.8 million last year.

Callcredit director Melanie Mitchley says:

"When on holiday, it is all too easy to adopt a relaxed frame of mind and become less vigilant about keeping belongings safe. It is precisely this lapsed approach that thieves home in on, they are professionals at targeting tourists and they are only too aware that people are likely to have lots of personal information with them whilst away."

There are a number of ways MyCallcredit suggests you take care of your ID whilst on holiday to minimise the likelihood of having your identity stolen:

  1. Limit the number of cards you take with you
    Taking fewer cards makes monitoring your transactions simple, it also means that you are more likely to notice if one of them goes missing. By only taking what you need, the temptation to overspend is also taken away.
  2. Do not give your personal details to anyone
    It is all too easy to be taken in by plausible reps offering you something for nothing who are keen to obtain a copy of your signature and other personal information. By giving them this, you are equipping them with enough data for them to apply for credit in your name!
  3. Check your credit rating before and after your holiday
    You can visit www.mycallcredit.com to view a copy of your credit file before you go away. This details all the credit facilities you have and tracks the balances on your credit cards. It is worth checking this on your return, just to ensure that it matches your financial activities.
  4. Vigilance when using your card
    As in this country, it is imperative that you keep your PIN details safe and shield your number from others when withdrawing cash from an ATM. Another factor to bear in mind is that most European countries do not yet operate a chip and pin system and because the traditional signature method increases the scope for theft, it is particularly important not to let your plastic out of your sight.
  5. Lock your passport in the hotel safe
    Your passport contains a wealth of personal information. Ensure that your passport and any other paperwork (holiday insurance documents etc) are locked away.

By taking these steps, your risk of becoming a target is significantly reduced. However, if you are in the unfortunate position of becoming a victim of identity theft, you must contact CIFAS (the UK's fraud prevention service), the Police and any company that you have credit with.

Top foreign card fraud destinations
Rank Country
1 Turkey
2 France
3 Spain
5 Italy
6 China
7 Thailand
8 Ireland
9 India
10 Netherlands