Fulltime RVing is adventure. It’s fun. It’s living life to its fullest. RV life means More Better Days! We love our RV life and wouldn’t change it for the world. We enjoy making the most out of the tough situations and laughing at all of the silly oops mistakes along the way. However, in the course of one solid year, we’ve had not one hit on our identities but rather 3!
The first happened in our home town a year ago last Winter. Someone walked in to a Neiman Marcus and opened a credit card in my husband’s name and spent several hundred dollars in purchases. Then the same person went to another store and did the same thing. We were thankfully contacted by Neiman Marcus and we quickly found out that someone had found Tom’s social security number, address, phone number and driver’s license number. After this, we put a 90 – day credit alert on our credit report.
Six months later, someone got a hold of our credit card number and went and made several purchases at three Game Stop locations. They used Tom’s information and yet again, were able to make these charges. After speaking with the credit card company and the credit bureau; Tom has a 7- year fraud alert on his credit report.
The third time, it was me. I got a notice from the credit bureau that I had opened an Old Navy account and spent over $300 at a store near Santa Cruz, California. Then, they had bought some shoes at Sketchers and one other retailer. Now I have a 7-year fraud alert on my credit report.
We, like many people were also victims of the Equifax breach. And, it seems like no matter what we do, every few months someone is trying to get in on our credit action.
Because we travel constantly, we do not use debit and we do not like to carry much cash. We like the protection offered by the credit card companies to quickly take action once an identity theft has happened. And while I have a techie husband, we have not found a sure-fire way to prevent identity theft from happening.
Where can identity theft occur? At the gas pump, at a convenience store, online and through the mail. Restaurants here in the states are notorious, because in most locations, the wait staff must take possession of your card, leave and come back. What they do with your card while it’s not in the owner’s hands is anyone’s guess.
We have traveled to Canada and Australia and in both locations the wait staff bring the card reader to you and you take care of transactions at the table. Some restaurants, like Chili’s and Olive Garden have the tablets with the ability to accept card payments too. But restaurants here in the US need to do much better at protecting their customer’s identities.
We also have had our address change a few times over the past few years which could cause some mail to be lost or stolen in transit. And, now we have our mail going to a mail service. It goes through the service to our RV park locations. Again, a lot can happen during transit where we are not aware.
In the past, Tom has had coverage with a major credit monitoring service through work. And up until about a year ago, I had credit monitoring services directly through one of the credit bureaus. I wasn’t confident in what their service was accomplishing for the price, so I cancelled it so that we could find better coverage as a family.
And then, we got on the road and quickly forgot about that important service. Many services just offer credit monitoring and alert you when there is potential fraud. Even credit card companies will alert you when certain discrepancies occur.
Steps to take to ensure your identity is closely monitored, secured and insured if something does occur:
Don’t give out your social security number to anyone, i.e. I don’t give that information at the doctor’s office or anywhere without fully understanding why they need it and how they will protect it!
Do not use your debit card at restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores or retail stores. You don’t want anyone getting access to your bank accounts. Remember that pin transactions are treated different from credit transactions and may not be protected. Always check with your bank regarding policies
Use creditkarma.com to monitor for obvious activity and telltale signs like new accounts or any purchases you don’t recognize. This should set a red flag to immediately pull your credit report and report fraudulent activity
Purchase an Identity Monitoring Service such as Identity Force. When deciding on an Identity Monitoring Service, please make sure it protects all members of the family and provides Identity Theft Insurance and Complete Restoration Services. We chose Identity Force over other major providers because they had the best value to service ratio and they will protect our children.To protect children, the cost is around $30 per year. (We have paid for this service and because we love it and believe that this is a good value for our readers, we are now affiliate members, meaning we receive a small commission for others who sign up). In addition, by clicking this link or the banner on the bottom of the screen, you'll receive 15% off and a free 14 day trial.
Don’t rely solely on a credit monitoring service. Be vigilant in checking statements, online banking, credit bureaus, etc.
Secure your electronic devices. Password protect everything and ensure your passwords are complex. Check out lastpass.com
Don’t overshare on social media. When we post it’s typically after the fact so that others are not aware of our location until a week or two after we’ve left
Don’t overshare in casual conversations. There’s a difference between being friendly and giving out too much personal information… i.e. “Today’s my birthday!” “We’re going to Colorado Springs tomorrow” etc. Less is more in casual conversations.
Teach your children to protect their identity by following the less is more when it comes to conversation
Be confident of who you are and be confident that you are in control of your identity, in-person and online.
There are several ways you can protect yourself and your family from identity theft.
Knowing the information and implementing them are two different things. Ensure that you and your family remain free from identity fraud and identity theft. Take action today!
Check out our video where we discuss this important topic: