Holiday travelers: How to avoid ID theft


Identity theft can be easy for thieves preying on holiday travelers, whether through low-tech tactics like snooping or as a result of stolen or left-behind electronics.

So what can you do to protect yourself while youre on the road for the holidays?

Celebrating the Holidays 2011

Bridget Carey, senior editor at, shared the following tips on "The Early Show."

  • Don't do sensitive work in the public Wi-Fi of the airport. Also watch your back, you don't want it easy to look over your shoulder.
  • If you have the budget, use a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that's just for you and password protected. You can even make this your main home Internet, using devices like the Clearwire Clear Spot Apollo 4G, a device that creates a hotspot anywhere you need it. Plus, you'll get better reception since everyone uses the airport Wi-Fi and it's slow. You can also just use the Internet over your phone's 3G or 4G wireless network, which is more secure than airport Wi-Fi.
  • Don't use Bluetooth when traveling. Turn it off. Thieves can pair their Bluetooth device to yours to steal files saved on your smartphone.
  • Get a screen privacy protector. The company 3M sells screen privacy protectors in many sizes for mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets or smartphones.
  • There are Android and iPhone programs that will track your phone for you if you lose it. And some Android phones have the option to remotely wipe all the info off of it. Here are tools you may want to check out: Apple's Find My iPhone, HTC Sense, BlackBerry Protect and Windows My Phone.

Some things to remember when you're traveling:

  • Minimize what you are carrying, so less can be stolen or lost. Do you need to carry your social security card in your wallet for the holiday trip? No, you don't.
  • Don't have loose USB drives or phones/tablets peeking out from your bags. Strangers distract you to ask for something, and someone else grabs the phones. There is a security system from the company LoJack for Laptops to hunt down a stolen laptop.
  • Improve your password strength: If thieves get your email password, they have access to everything. That's because a thief can just go to a website and say they forgot your password, and get the passwords reset through your account. We all hear that we're supposed to pick strong passwords that are different at each site. But people don't, they think it'll be hard to remember something that isn't common. You want it to have upper and lower case, numbers, and special characters, if allowed. The easiest to guess are words that are tied to you; for instance, if you love cooking on Twitter, don't use "chef" or "cook" in your password. You might have an easier time picking a random object in the room, finding a number that means something to something unrelated to you.