TOURISM

The time for your well-earned vacation has finally come, and you can’t wait to get to the sun or anywhere else for that matter. A change of scenery is just what you need, but having your identity stolen is another kind of trip entirely. You might be on vacation, but the scam artists aren’t!

Stolen Passport Or Other ID

If you’re between 35 and 50, your passport is one of the most sought-after documents by identity thieves, since they’re recognized not just in your home country, but all over the world. Canadian passports are worth their weight in gold on the international black market, since they can open all kinds of doors for international fraudsters. Your other pieces of Canadian identification also contain valuable personal information.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • If you need to carry your passport on you, always keep it in a waist pack or some other kind of travel wallet.
  • If you’re staying at a hotel, use your in-room safe to securely store any travel documents or other personal papers you don’t have to carry on you.
  • Don’t wear anything that might signal you’re a foreigner, such as a Canadian flag patch on your backpack or a hat that says “Canada.”
  • Show your passport to customs officials only—never to tour guides or local service providers.
  • Never use your passport as a deposit for a service or as proof of identity.
  • Before you leave, make a photocopy of your passport and give it to someone you trust who will not be travelling with you. If you have any problems, this person could really help you when dealing with the local authorities. If you find yourself in a place where you feel your safety is threatened, contact the Canadian embassy or consulate to let them know where you are.
  • If you’re carrying your identity documents on you, regularly check to make sure they’re still there.

Stolen & Redirected Mail

Your mailbox is a goldmine of personal information. Just think about what can be found there: your credit card number, social insurance number, banking information, replacement driver’s licence, new credit cards… Fraudsters are counting on you to be away so they can steal your mail or have it redirected to their address by Canada Post.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Have your mail delivery suspended while you’re away or ask someone you trust to pick it up for you every day.
  • Make sure your mailbox has a lock to prevent theft.
  • Pay special attention to any mail that seems to have been tampered with.
  • Keep an eye out for your regular mail, such as monthly statements. If you notice anything is late, contact the company.
  • Keep the amount of mail you receive to a minimum by subscribing to online statements or signing up for epost (service offered by Canada Post).

Credit Cards

When you’re on vacation, one of the easiest ways to pay for things is with your credit card. But credit card scams are one of the most popular types of fraud, since they’re an easy cash grab for scammers, no matter where you are in the world. And fixing the situation can be a complicated process, even from home—just imagine how much more difficult it would be from a foreign country.

To protect against fraud, your credit card issuer keeps track of your spending habits. That way, if any unusual activity shows up in your file, the issuer will contact you to verify your identity. Sometimes, your issuer might even simply refuse to approve the transaction.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Notify your credit card issuers that you’ll be travelling abroad so they can make a note in your file.
  • Bring only the credit cards you’ll need while you’re away.
  • Keep your receipts and check them against your statement for any unusual transactions when you return.
  • Remember that you shouldn’t have to provide retailers with any personal information in order to pay with a credit card.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with the common methods of payment in the country you’re going to.
  • Before you leave, visit voyage.gc.ca to find out more about crime in the country you’re going to visit.
  • Pay close attention to payment terminals. If you believe they may have been tampered with, pay in cash.
  • Drink responsibly. You’re only making the con artist’s job easier if you start sharing personal information after one too many piña coladas!
  • Don’t tell your life story to everyone with a kind ear.

See the Credit Cards, Debit Cards and Bank Fraud page of the Finances section for more information.

Burglaries

While you’re away, your empty home could make a prime target for thieves looking not just for valuables but also personal information.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Ask someone you trust to make it look like someone’s home while you’re away.
  • Safely store any documents containing personal information under lock and key.
  • Don’t leave any public messages announcing that you’ll be away for a specific period of time—this includes your voicemail, email, and Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks.
  • Before leaving, make a backup copy of your hard drive and keep it in a safe place—ideally somewhere other than your home.
  • Keep your friends and family updated about your trip and where you’re going, either by phone or email.
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