Personal data thieves are seemingly everywhere - even when you're traveling for fun, or for business.
Consider the Hyatt Hotels breach, which the Chicago-based hotel and resort company acknowledged last December, as data thieves allegedly penetrated Hyatt's consumer payment information technology system.
Hyatt wasn't alone. Other hotel chains, including Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotel & Resorts, have also experienced hacking attempts, leading the industry to shore up its information systems security.
As DealNews put it in a recent post on the topic of travel and data breaches, your money is never truly safe anywhere, and if you're hitting the road soon, it's an issue you'd better take seriously - or data fraudsters may well take your money and personal data from you, potentially thousands of miles from home.
"The risk of losing your cash and/or personal data are greatly increased when traveling," notes Benjamin Glaser, features editor with DealNews. "Unfamiliar payment and banking systems make it more difficult to stick with secure methods; and even the most discreet travelers are likely to be identifiable as tourists, making them targets for pickpockets and scam artists. So all of the normal methods you use to keep your data and money safe at home need to be strengthened when traveling abroad."
DealNews advises traveling consumers, especially ones going overseas, to let their banks know your travel itinerary, so they can track any suspicious payments on your debit or credit card. Additionally, it's wise to get a travel debt card (i.e., a temporary payment card) from your bank, and leave your regular card at home, safe and sound.
Other travel experts say to keep a cool head when traveling abroad, as old-fashioned common sense can help thwart any would-be identity thieves. "I travel over 125,000 miles a year," says Ryan Ver Berkmoes, a journalist, author and traveler. "The best advice when overseas is do the same things you do at home. Travelers either forget all their caution in the joy - and jet-lag - of the moment, or they take too many unfamiliar precautions that make them easy marks. It's easy to get frazzled and do stupid things."
"For example, in Bali, ATM's give you back your card last," Ver Berkmoes says."People are used to getting the card back before getting the cash at home, and they leave their cards behind all the time. Gangs watch you enter your PIN number and then swoop in for your forgotten card."