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AAA New Mexico offers tips for preventing ID theft on vacation

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

As thousands of New Mexicans are relaxing at the beach, visiting theme parks, setting sail on cruises or exploring exotic destinations this summer, AAA New Mexico is reminding travelers to take some simple precautions and prevent ID theft on vacation.

“Summer is a time to travel, unwind, reconnect and create lasting memories with loved ones,” said Daniel Armbruster, AAA New Mexico spokesperson. “New Mexicans can preserve their peace of mind by taking a few common-sense steps to prevent criminals from stealing personal information that can cause a lot of issues during and after summer trips.”

Thieves can steal account numbers or other personal data enabling them to set up credit cards in another person’s name. The proliferation of mobile devices has provided another easy means for criminals to access personal data and steal thousands of dollars using other people’s identities.

AAA New Mexico advises the following precautions for travelers:

• Stop your mail while you’re on vacation. Mail theft continues to be a common way for thieves to access personal data. Just call the U.S. Postal Service at 800-275-8777 or visit http://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail.

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• Protect portable electronics with passwords. While you’re out and about on a trip, there are more chances for criminals to take advantage of a couple of minutes of inattention on your part. Thieves need just a couple of minutes with a device to extract personal information, so set up your devices to automatically lock and require a password or passcode to reopen.

• Be cautious with navigation apps. Don’t store your home address in these apps — if your device is stolen and unlocked while on vacation or at any time, it’s an easy way for a criminal to access it. Instead, use a nearby public location as your “home address” on the app, allowing you to navigate home without risking your security.

• Be wary on public WiFi. You’ll likely be using more public WiFi spots than usual when you’re on vacation. Avoid conducting financial transactions of any type on public WiFi, because thieves can monitor them with “sniffers” and grab credit card numbers, account numbers and other personal information. If possible, use public WiFi networks that require a password to join. And if your signal strength allows, use your phone’s cellular data service instead of public WiFi.

• Be prepared to erase your device remotely. If someone does steal your device, you’ll want to remove everything that enables them to assume your identity. As soon as you know your device has been stolen, you should follow the procedures from the manufacturer to remotely wipe vital data.

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