Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer is Here and Identity Theft Gets Easier

How does summer effect identity theft? Just think of what you do during the summer and how you can be effected.

Going to the beach? Taking a trip anywhere....staying in a hotel with all the kids? Day trip to the local pool?

Most will do at least one of these events sometime over the next three months.

So how do identity thieves strike during this time of year? Let's focus on the simple stay in the hotel by the beach.

These places are packed this time of year. Different people come and go from every room with faces changing constantly. The hotel staff, specifically the cleaning staff don't recognize you from anyone else. How does that work against you?

You allow them to come in your room after you've cleared out and moved the family to the beach. You taken minimal items, sunscreen, towels, and some cash, after all you are going to be on the beach and don't want to leave your wallet vulnerable on the shore, hiding under towels while you go in the water. But you have left most of your valuables wide open in your room.

How? Just walk the halls anywhere from 9 am to 2 pm. Rooms on every floor are left wide open. Thieves can walk right in, even when the cleaning staff is in there! They act like the rooms actual occupant looking for the laptop, Blackberry, wallet etc. that they left behind and need to take to the beach. The staff does not stop them....they think they are the rooms' actual occupant! They see hundreds of faces every day.....nobody stands out. If they do recognize a person as not the current resident (highly unlikely) a simple....ooops....wrong room, wrong floor excuse and the thief is on their questions asked.

So what can do? Plenty if you just take the time to trade off a few amenities. First and foremost....don't have them clean your room. Gross...right? Not really....they only neaten things up, make the beds, and empty the trash, and vacuum and change the towels, and leave you new soap. Well, if you were home, you would do this anyway, so it will not kill you to take 10 minutes (about all the time they spend on it) to protect your identity and personal belongings. Call for fresh towels and soap at the end of the day, empty your trash, and leave the bed messy and forget vacuuming...hey your on vacation! You get to leave the dirt behind!

Just tell the cleaning staff you will not need the service....and leave the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, with the TV on and the volume turned up a bit, just to be sure the staff don't enter the room.

Simple steps and some common sense will save you from summertime identity theft.