Vacation Victim: A WAFF 48 News Special Report

Identity thieves target tourists on vacation. Find out how to protect your information.
Identity thieves target tourists on vacation. Find out how to protect your information.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Leaving your house to go on vacation doesn't just pose a risk for your jewels and electronics anymore. Identity thieves are targeting vacationers on the road and back at their empty homes.

"Now identity thieves are so smart they can get little pieces of information about you from different places," said Michele Mason with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama.

Mason said vacationers are becoming a target of identity thieves more often. You can be hit at home, if thieves break in while you're away to steal your identifying or financial information, or at your destination.

The first tip for thieves is often on Facebook. You may be tempted to upload a status or pictures of your vacation while you're still out of town, but Mason says that can be dangerous.

"Friends of friends see that or are you have allowed someone to be your friend that you really don't know that well that could make you very vulnerable for someone trying to break into your home," she said.

That's where they might find your bank statements, empty checkbooks, birth certificates and other financial documents.

Using public wireless Internet to check your email, bank accounts, or other private sites while you're away could broadcast your information to anyone else picking up that Internet signal.

Even just using your credit cards can be a hazard. Mason said crafty identity thieves are now using cell phone cameras to snap pictures of your credit cards and videos of you entering your pin numbers. Even leaving a receipt on the dinner table after you're done with a meal can leave you vulnerable to identity theft.

"It has your signature now on there, your name, starts getting the pieces of the puzzle they might need to steal your identity. So, if nothing else at least flip it over before you go so someone can't come by and try to snap a picture of it. But it's best to make sure that the wait staff does take that away so it's not left on the table for someone else to get a hold of," Mason explained.

Her other tips include making sure you have eyes on your passport and ID card at all times, using safety deposit boxes and checking them frequently to make sure they haven't been burglarized, and checking your credit score regularly to make sure no one has opened any accounts in your name. She also warns travelers to be weary of phone scams.

"There's a lot of scams where they'll try to contact rooms and convince you that they're from that personnel at the hotel and get you to give out credit card information because is a problem at check in," she said.

If someone posing as a front desk clerk calls your room, just head down to the desk in person to sort out the problem.

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