In the past few weeks I have been traveling quite a bit. Therefore, I have been spending a lot of time in airports, car rental offices, Super Shuttles, and hotels. When I travel by myself, I am a fan of reading, listening to music, and people watching. It is this last activity that has prompted me to write this blog.
While at the airport, I realized that several people were holding their driver’s licenses (for security screening purposes). The problem however, was that had I been a more dishonest person, I could have easily recorded the names and addresses of several people for future use. One person sat down next to me at the airport, put down his bags, ticket, license, and credit card, then turned to his back on all of it to talk to his travel partner. While waiting in line at the car rental office, I listened to one person read off their entire credit card number, including the three-digit security code on the back, over their cell phone. In the hotel restaurant, while I was having dinner, I watched a woman walk off and leave her purse sitting at the table unattended, and before she returned to the table, the server brought back her check with her credit card sitting on top. During check-in at the hotel, had I wanted to, I could have documented one gentleman’s information from both his driver’s license and his American Express card, as he left both sitting on the counter next to me.
With all the information out there about identity theft, credit card fraud, health insurance fraud, and more, why are people still being so careless with their personal information? NCPC has an entire campaign on identity theft, which tells us, among other things, that according to the U.S. Postal Service, in 2004 consumers spent $5 billion to resolve identity theft problems, and almost 10 million people were victimized. So here is your reminder: be careful with your personal information! And just in case you need a refresher, check out this guide on preventing identity theft (PDF).