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Equifax warns consumers to keep their personal information safe whilst abroad

By CreditMan Monday, July 16, 2007

In the summer of 2006 it was claimed that losses from credit and debit cards whilst consumers were on holiday totalled almost £140 million. So this summer, Equifax, the instant online credit information provider, is urging holidaymakers to be vigilant at all times and to ensure bank cards and personal information, such as passports, are kept in a safe and secure place.

Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director of Equifax advises, “When going on holiday, people normally carry their passport, driving licence, credit cards and other identification documents - all of which are key to stealing someone’s identity. To make it worse, holidaymakers are more relaxed and less aware of what’s going on around them, and this provides an ideal opportunity for fraudsters. Fraud hotspots include USA, France, Spain, Italy and Japan so visitors to these countries need to be extra vigilant.”

67 million
* visits abroad were made by UK consumers last year; each visit provided a perfect opportunity for fraudsters to obtain personal information. And holidaymakers don’t even need to leave home to be vulnerable. The criminals might be waiting for their next victim at the airport. Luggage tags with address and contact details are easily visible to prying eyes and could be all the information fraudsters need to target homes while they are empty.

Consumers using credit cards abroad should exercise the same caution as they do at home. They should never let restaurant, hotel or shop staff go out of sight with their card. And they should be wary of carrying around credit cards and passport when out and about. Leave as much at the hotel in a security box or safe as possible.

Munroe concludes, “Losing your credit cards and other personal documents can ruin your holiday, not just financially, but also because of the hassle. Before you go, tell your credit card provider when and where you are going. If you are worried that personal information has been taken or you have lost personal documents monitor your credit file by subscribing to Equifax Credit Watch™. This service will alert you as soon as someone attempts to use your identity to open credit accounts.”

Equifax Credit Watch™ Gold

Daily alerts on any changes to a consumer’s credit file provided by email and/or SMS
The changes to the credit file include searches made when a credit application is conducted in an individual’s name, changes to credit account balances, amendments to electoral roll information, the addition of County Court Judgments, etc
Unlimited copies of an individual’s Equifax Credit ReportTM ensuring that they can fully understand the information that is affecting their credit status
Interactive facilities already established for the Equifax Credit ReportTM also mean that a consumer can initiate a dispute or query any information on their credit file online, instantly

The UK banking industry
* Office of National Statistics 2006