BIRMINGHAM, AL, Jun 11 (MARKET WIRE) —
Despite the fact that identity fraud is one of the fastest-growing crimes
in the U.S., 42 percent of Alabama residents have little or no concern
about it happening to them while traveling or visiting retail locations
this summer, according to a new survey by AAA Alabama
The survey also revealed that more than one-third of polled Alabama
residents do not plan to take a few common precautions to prevent or
minimize the effects of ID theft while on vacation this summer, such as
removing unneeded IDs or credit cards from one’s wallet before traveling.
“Identity theft is a growing crime at a time when other types of crime
are declining, but this poll shows that many people don’t think it can
happen to them,” said AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram. “Vacationers
especially should be aware of ID theft risk because they often use their
credit cards and IDs more frequently while on trips.”
Ingram recommends that in addition to removing unneeded credit cards and
identification from one’s wallet prior to a trip, travelers should
photocopy their ID or passport and bring that copy in their luggage in
case their wallet is stolen on the trip, and they should also contact
their credit card companies to alert them when and where they will be
traveling. Thirty-five percent of Alabama residents responding to the AAA
poll said they do none of those things prior to going on vacation.
AAA Alabama recommends that travelers take the following added steps
before leaving on a summer vacation:
– When planning your trip, be skeptical of any e-mail purportedly from
one of your travel providers that directs you to a website in which
credit card or personal information is entered. One of the largest
forms of fraud is “phishing,” in which victims receive an email that
directs to a phony website that is an exact copy of a real website and
requests users to enter personal and financial data, supposedly to
– Also when planning your trip, do not give out your credit card number,
social security number, birth date or other personal information over
the phone unless you are familiar with the merchant or you have
initiated the call.
– Sign up for an identity theft monitoring service. Some are available
for free through consumers’ business affiliations and memberships,
while more robust solutions are offered for a fee. For example, AAA
Alabama members can receive free credit monitoring and identity fraud
resolution support from CreditCheck(R) Select, a part of
Experian(R), just by signing up for the member benefit at
www.AAA.com. AAA members also save 30 percent on a more robust
solution called ProtectMyID(TM), also offered by Experian.
– If you plan to bring a smart phone and/or a laptop on the trip, you
can create a password-protected file on it ahead of time to store your
credit card account numbers and issuer contact information, allowing
for quick reporting if credit cards are lost or stolen.
– When making travel reservations or any purchase over the Internet
using a credit card, make sure that the site provides a secure,
encrypted location for you to enter your credit card information (the
prefix address at the top of the Web site should be https:// rather
While traveling this summer or anytime, AAA Alabama recommends:
– Be aware of your surroundings. Tourist areas can be targets for
pickpocketers — your travel agent can often advise you which areas
have a reputation for possible theft. Consider using a securely
strapped travel wallet to store your credit cards and identification,
or if carrying a purse, make sure you keep it with you zipped, secure
and visible to you at all times.
– Treat your credit cards and all your identification like cash. Keep
them securely in your wallet when not needed.
– Check your bank and credit card activity online and/or at an ATM at
least once during the trip if you are able to do so in a secure
manner. This will help you quickly detect whether you have become a
victim of “skimming.” Skimming often occurs in restaurants and bars
where credit cards are out of sight of the cardholder. Secret copies
of the magnetic strip are made in order to make a counterfeit card.
– Report billing errors and lost or stolen cards immediately to resolve
problems in a timely manner and reduce possible fraudulent activity.
– Track your usage by keeping receipts for your ATM, credit and debit
– When entering a debit card pin or displaying your credit card or
driver’s license for a purchase, shield them from the view of
– It is wiser to use a credit card rather than a debit card when making
purchases on vacation. When you use a debit card, it is your money at
stake and not the bank’s.
– If traveling by car, don’t leave any valuable items in the car
containing credit cards or credit card information such as a purse or
laptop if possible. If you must leave valuables in the car, hide them
AAA Alabama’s summer travel and identity theft survey was conducted
online from April 27 to May 3 by the AAA Alabama Marketing Research
Department, and was taken by 268 AAA members in Alabama and a total of
2,300 AAA members around the country. It has a margin of error of +/- 5.6
(Clay Ingram is on vacation)
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