While the numbers for many types of crime are falling, one sector that is seeing an increase includes identity theft and identity fraud. Being globally mobile means carrying a large amount of sensitive documentation and information across border (and leaving other documents behind), increasing the risk of identity theft. There are, however, ways to protect ourselves as we set up a new life abroad.
- Prepare your mail. Many countries will allow a mail hold for a certain amount of time, or will allow you to set up forwarding to a safe address where someone can collect your mail for you. Another option is to use a virtual mailbox service, where mail is scanned and sent to you digitally no matter where you are in the world.
- Learn about common scams in your destination. Some countries have more problems than others with card skimmers, pick-pocketing, and other common crimes that can lead to identity fraud. Living Abroad makes note of these, so you can be prepared.
- Be cautious on public Wi-Fi. Cyber criminals can set up open networks in an attempt to steal data. Don’t connect to unsecured Wi-Fi, use a secure encryption (WPA2, WPA3), and do not install any unknown apps that claim you need them to connect. If you have any doubt about a network’s security, use a VPN. Additionally, keep your operating systems up to date. Tech companies are aware of the most common scams, and are constantly releasing software patches and updates to protect devices.
- Check your credit and accounts regularly. Nowadays our accounts and credit scores are easily available via app. Make note of any irregularities and contact your bank right away.
- Turn on two-factor authentication (with one caveat). Two-factor authentication can protect your identity by requiring a second log-in for sensitive transactions. While this works well, if you are changing your phone number to a local number in your new country, you may lose access to your accounts if your only 2FA method is via phone. If you’ll be changing numbers, use a 2FA app or e-mail confirmation, and ensure that your new number is registered with your accounts as soon as possible.
Living Abroad covers digital protection and more in our Relocation Essentials section. With just a few precautions, you can protect yourself from fraud and enjoy your new destination worry-free.
Written by Kate Havas, GMS-T, Content Group