Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Identity theft rife in the travel industry

Brace yourself for some breaking news: Revealing your personal details online, or leaving your passport and/or wallet hanging around a hotel room, could make you a target for identity theft.

I know, I must be joking, but alas it's true.

Aren't you pleased I shared this important nugget of information?

I know August is a slow news period, but surely it's not necessary to trot out the same old stories week after week, year after year (change the date, keep the headline, is a phrase which pops to mind).

Over the past few weeks, a number of "warnings" have been issued to consumers about the hazards of revealing their personal and financial data online.

The scaremongers of late seem to favour targeting online social networking sites like FaceBook and MySpace (see our recent blog post Dark side of social networking).

Obviously, something which is new and interesting (though social networking sites are not really all that new) must have some major flaws (please).

But the "news" doesn't stop there.

Fraudsters are helping insurance premiums to skyrocket, so it is only logical that banks remind their careless customers not to leave their wallets hanging around for all the world to see.

New research from Capital One reveals that 45% of British holidaymakers don’t use the safes provided in hotels, with the majority leaving passports and personal documents lying around hotel rooms and apartments, or carrying them around whilst out and about.

Actually, that is a rather staggering statistic.

But, having just returned from holiday in Corfu, where many of the apartments and villas charge you a fiver a day to use their safe, I can understand why holidaymakers might opt instead to spend their hard-earned dosh on something more holiday-like (like a carafe of local wine).

The sad truth is we all have that "it will never happen to me" arrogance. I do it and I'll bet you a fiver you do it.

So, whilst I am a bit tired of all the scaremongering, I guess maybe we do need to be reminded to use some common sense---whether it's at home, abroad, online or offline.

(I do, however, take issue with targeting specific companies barring some firm evidence of their specific risk.)

Do we really need all these statistics and reports to tell us what we intuitively know?

No. But will we forget all about this by the time the next summer holiday season rolls around?

You betcha. Hence why I'm saving this blog--just gotta change the date next year.

Tricia Holly Davis, chief writer, Travolution

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