A sea cruise is a life long dream for many couples, but even while you're relaxing under the sun the dangers of identity theft follow you aboard the ship.
Companies such as Lifelock can help reduce the chances of someone using your identity to purchase goods and obtain fraudulent credit- there are also important steps you can take on your own.
The first starts before you even leave the car. Whether you're parking in the long-term lot at the airport, or near the docks- thieves know that your car is going to be left alone for several days. Before you depart home, remove all identifying papers from the car; including the registration and insurance papers. Left over mail tucked in the glove compartments, paid repair bills, and store receipts all give access to identifying information the thief knows won’t be missed for some time, giving them opportunity to use it while you're away.
If you are on a cruise ship headed to foreign ports your passport is the most valuable possession you have. Protecting it from theft means not having to deal with replacements while overseas, or someone using it to become you or your partner through identity theft. Make photocopies to carry with you, and keep the passport along with other valuable papers locked up in your cabin safe. If you feel you must keep it with you, then wear a special passport and wallet belt made for travelers - They're much harder to pickpocket and keep papers secure. Seasoned cruise vacationers know that some of their fellow travelers will lose their wallets to thieves on every cruise....So don’t be one of them.
Almost all tourist shops take American dollars and travelers checks. Leaving your credit card behind in your cabin safe protects it from theft, or the temptation for a dishonest store clerk to re-use your information for their own purpose. Take only as much money as you think you’ll need, and avoid flashing it around like a rich American tourist.
When on a cruise it’s easy to quickly become bonded to fellow travelers and consider them your newest best friend. Unfortunately it's also easy to reveal too much personal information to someone whom you really don’t know that well. Details about which particular company you work for, or your home address should be kept personal. Sharing family information creates a sense of camaraderie, but information such as who goes to what school and who their teacher is allows a thief access to find out more about you than you want them to know.
Developing an understanding that no one is going to take care of you except yourself is the critical key to protecting identity. If you get a call from someone claiming to be part of the ship’s crew and they state they need your credit card number, it should trigger questions. A counter clerk who is gone too long with your card may be copying the information in the back room. An accomplished slight-of-hand artist can ask for your passport and hand you back a fake one without you knowing it. Be aware, take nothing for granted, and double check everything that has an opportunity to reveal private information.
Lifelock and other services provide vital protection, but if you do your job at all times, it makes their work much easier.