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Prevention Of Identity Theft On The Road In Hotels, Bars And Restaurants

May 9, 2008
It's no secret that identity theft is on the rise. Walk into any big box office supply store and you will mounds and mounds of paper shredders meant to shred your personal documents and letters making it harder for an identity thieve to obtain your vital personal information. Sure you are safe at home and at the office but what about on the road, on your vacation, travel for work and conventions, and in hotels, bars and restaurants?

To begin with what is "identify theft"? Identity theft is where an "identity thief" commits fraud and indeed other crimes by assuming (or copying) your personal identity. Such information as your name, birth date, address, and social insurance, charge cards, banking account numbers and other information and identification can later be used to impersonate you for the purposes of stealing or acquiring even more money through access to your accounts, opening up accounts in other forms and banking and credit institutions. Amazingly some identity thieves will even seek "gainful" employment under your name and identity. At the end of the you guess who will be asked to pay the income taxes on those earnings? You of course. The amount of time that you will spend explaining yourself and your predicament to the I.R.S. among others will be more than substantial. Often as well many organizations will take an approach of pay up now and "we will (of course) refund your money after proper and full documentation is given". Lots of luck and lots of fun. The summary is that if you are a victim of identity theft, you could be left with bills, bad credit and the hassle of dealing with financial agencies and police departments to clear your name. In addition dealing with the IRS can come into the picture as well.

What can you do to protect yourself against identity theft when traveling on the road and in distant hotels, bars and restaurants? First of all when you return from your trip always verify charges and bills. Keep receipts for cross referencing. You may want to check your credit statement and charges online ahead of time, rather than waiting for your hard copy bill to arrive by snail mail or email. This way you may catch mistakes ahead of time and nip problems in the "bud". Add in the logistics of distance factors, time changes, staffing and phone bills and it becomes almost a nightmare. Indeed for some charges you may feel that it is not worth the time effort and costs.

First of all always ensure that after transactions that you have received the correct credit card in return by serving staff personnel and that you have not received other persons by mistake or on purpose. Next ensure that you do not leave personal documents or information just "lying "around your hotel or hotel meeting rooms. Its not a question of hotel staff - who may well be carefully screened and hired for personal honesty and integrity - but rather just "anybody" or " anyone" who can just be strolling down the hall or indeed be trolling or on the prowl. Similarly computers left on and unprotected are targets as well. It's not the computer so much now, but rather the data on it that is most valuable. On top of that if the computer is left behind and untouched, a sense of safety, honesty and data integrity is afforded to the victim, who may not know that their vital data, documentation and financial records and passwords have, been sequestered. All it takes is a split second and a run of the mill USB flash memory drive and all over. Shortly your credit card data, passwords or worse may be sold to thieves and emailed anywhere in the world. It's best to employ some type of password entry to your computers, cell phone and blackberries and as well not leave such information in clear view.

You may think that it should be the responsibility of the hotel and its staff to protect you in such matters. If identity theft occurs to you in this manner you may well think that you can sue the hotel and that the hotel should compensate you for you troubles and more. On top of everything else you may demand an all expense paid trip to Hawaii in the hotel chains 4 star resort. Lots of luck. While it may be true that hotels and the service industry are most concerned about their reputation and maintaining high service levels in their hotels and establishments they can only do so much , and provide a certain level of safety and security. It's up to you to protect yourself. Imagine the wasted time, energy and cost you can save yourself by being vigilant and proactive when it comes to your own security and protecting yourself from identity theft while traveling on the road - whether it be in hotels and restaurants - either for business travel or for your personal vacations.
About the Author
Morris E.R.J. Brown Fortuna California Gateway to the Redwoods Romantic Winnipeg Hotel Theme Rooms Post 9/11 Travel Intelligence
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