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10 TIPS to Prevent Identity Theft while Traveling


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 SJPdP to Santiago, Finisterre. Hadrian's Way, 2015. Sections of the AT + National & State Park trails.
I follow most of these, but also do a few other things.

As suggested below, I weed out all non-essential items from my wallet. But then I also make 2 photocopies my credit cards/debit cards/passport/drivers license that are carried. 1 of those photocopies is left at home in my safe where it can be accessed if I call home to our housesitter. The other photocopy is kept in my concealed wallet, with my passport, 2nd credit card and extra cash. That gives me access to the card/ID information in case of a problem and I need to show it/provide it for ID purposes, etc.

Because we have a housesitter we do not stop our mail. I have never done a 'credit freeze' but I do subscribe to one of the ID theft protection services, which monitors and alerts me to such activity, asking me to authorize before proceeding.

Link to full story => http://blog.aarp.org/2015/07/10/10-ways-to-prevent-identity-theft-when-traveling/

Stick with one credit card. Tourists are easier prey for sleazy store clerks and restaurant employees who capture credit card numbers with cellphone cameras or pen and paper and then make fraudulent purchases. If not paying with cash when traveling, use only one credit card – with the lowest credit limit – and keep regular tabs on its activity.

Weed your wallet. Remove unnecessary personal identifiers (think pretty much everything except your driver’s license) and all but two credit cards. Carry one with you to use for food and fun (see above), and keep the other locked in a hotel room safe in case your wallet is pilfered. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet...

Use Wi-Fi wisely. Free Wi-Fi networks in airports, hotels and other public places are usually unsecure. Make sure your information is encrypted by using WPA or WPA2 networks that require a password, and only visit websites that begin with “https” (the “s” is for secure). And even then, avoid accessing online bank accounts or other sensitive information from public computers and hot spots. Try to use Google Chrome’s “incognito mode” (Ctrl +Shift + N) so your search history, passwords and cookies will automatically not be saved. Don’t autosave information, and select “no” if asked if you want to save any passwords.

Smartphone smarts. Considering that users of these pocket-size computers already are 30 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft than others, protecting your device should be a 24/7 ritual, not just while you’re on vacation. In addition to password-locking its screen, enabling encryption and using security software, protect your phone from thieves and cybercrooks with these other tips.

Choose ATMs wisely. Like checkbooks, debit cards are best left at home. But if you plan on making on-the-road cash withdrawals, ATMs inside bank lobbies are less vulnerable to skimming devices that capture your debit card information to steal from your bank account. Before using an ATM, check for a flashing light at the card slot (if it’s obscured, suspect tampering), wiggle the slot to be sure it’s secure, and try several keys, especially “Enter,” “Cancel” and “Clear,” as a sticky keypad could indicate a non-skimming ruse.

Before leaving:

* Alert payment-card providers to when, where and how long you’ll be traveling. This helps fraud departments stop bogus charges if your plastic is used where you’re not and reduces risk of your transactions being declined due to “unusual activity.”

* Stop mail. A full mailbox – especially with bank statements and credit card or health insurance bills – can be a treasure trove for identity thieves (and suggests easy pickings for a home burglar). If there’s no helping hand to retrieve your mail while you’re traveling, you can obtain forms to hold or forward mail from any U.S. post office. Also, stop newspaper deliveries while you’re gone.

* Copy and pass. Photocopy essential items you’re taking with you – passport, driver’s license, front and back of credit cards, and the like – and leave these copies with a trusted friend or neighbor at home. Your confidant may prove invaluable should your original versions of these essentials be lost or stolen.

* Consider a credit freeze. If you’ll be traveling extensively, a freeze denies access to your credit history, so identity thieves can’t open new accounts in your name. But a freeze will not prevent you – or them – from making charges on existing credit cards, so carefully monitor those accounts.​
Camino(s) past & future
'03CF, '08VdlP, '12Porto, '14VdlP via Port '15CPI ‘17Levante to Toledo
Bravo - lots of useful ideas even for travel veterans. Thanks for taking the time to summarise all these points


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
My New Zealand bank is really 'onto' it with respect to credit card fraud, and seem to quickly pick up on unusual transactions. (It's essential to let them know when and to which countries I am traveling for this reason.) I tried to use the SNCF website once when I had just returned to France from Spain. The transaction was blocked in real time, - much to my surprise- and I had a request to ring them. Turned out that the SNCF website is one on which fraudsters regularly 'try out' stolen credit card details, to see if they work- plus the bank thought I was still in Spain... Although when this happened, I was surprised, I was soon glad to realise what great protection I had from back home.


Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
The only point IMO is open to question is taking only one credit card. If you have a second one and have to 'stop' one you still have access to credit. Happened to a friend of ours whose card was compromised. Without the second provider's card they would have had real problems. Just be sure that both card providers do have good security and do want to know your travel dates, even if EU citizens within the EU. They should also have your mobile number as contact if fraud is suspected. This is a help if you need to contact them as they see it as part of your details.

If using a 'contactless card' either ask for it to be changed to 'non-contactless' or learn how to disable the wireless bit. This includes wrapping the card in tin-foil.


Camino(s) past & future
Portugues - Tui to Santiago (2014, I think)
French - St Jean to Santiago to Finester (2018)
If using a 'contactless card' either ask for it to be changed to 'non-contactless' or learn how to disable the wireless bit. This includes wrapping the card in tin-foil.[/QUOTE said:
I have seen, in some catalogues and somewhere on t'web, wallets and cardholders made from woven steel thread. These should block wireless signals to and from 'contactless' cards.



Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 SJPdP to Santiago, Finisterre. Hadrian's Way, 2015. Sections of the AT + National & State Park trails.
Regarding only 1 credit card. Its not take only one, it is use only 1. I take 2 credit cards, one is kept hidden in a security belt and one is used.
Last edited:


Sorry this is a late reply to this very useful thread.

When overseas I use a currency prepaid card in ATMs. The main driver for this was over-zealous security for my bank which automatically blocked my debit card after any use in a foreign ATM, even if I had advised my bank of travel plans in advance. After this caused a lengthy and expensive phone call from the USA to fix I decided to explore different options. (My credit card provider is fine and happily leaves my card active if I supply an advance itinerary to them).

Another advantage is that a currency card is limited to whatever you pre-load it with, it is safer to use this than expose your bank account to possible fraud while you are away from home when sorting it out much more difficult to deal with. The currency card is linked to your bank, I can reload it instantly by text message (using separate PIN and security) any time I need to top up funds.

Also these cards charge a one off exchange fee for every loading, rather than being hit every time you make a transaction with a normal debit or credit card, which usually works out cheaper. Shop around and see what suits you.

I do carry a debit and credit card for emergencies, but well-hidden away.

Another tip...use your card in an ATM during bank opening hours if possible, if the card gets swallowed you won't be left having to walk on without it or hang around waiting for the bank to reopen.

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