If you’re pressed for time today, you might want to skip right down to the nitty-gritty on a free ID Patrol trial giveaway, because — you’ve been warned! — I’m going to ramble on a bit here first. On the other hand, if you’re getting ready to pack up the kids and head out on a road trip, here’s what I’ve been thinking lately about the risks and perils of leaving home:
You know how, smack in the middle of vacation season, we always seem to get a parcel of warnngs about staying safe when you travel?
This year is no exception.
Insurance companies are always telling us how to help reduce the chance they might have to pay out on your householder’s policy, and there’s good advice to be had there.
After all, these are experts in risk reduction, and they’re motivated to help keep your stuff safe. They’ll tell you all about making your home look as if someone’s still home, when you’re off on vacation: put lights on timers, cancel the newspaper delivery, and get a trusted neighbour to bring in your mail, all that sort of thing…
And just in case there is a break-in while you’re away, you’re supposed to hide your valuables in some clever place that bad guys will never guess.
I have a friend who puts her few bits of heirloom jewellery in a zip-lock baggie and stashes it in the bottom of the kitty litter tray! And a fellow beekeeper I know once hid his valuables in the middle of a busy bee hive.
Can you beat those ideas for exotic safe hiding places? I’d love to hear!
And then there are all the caveats about not flashing a wad of cash when you’re on the road, not leaving goodies in sight in a parked car, carrying your passport and credit cards in a hidden travel pouch under your clothing, not getting friendly with mysterious strangers in hotel bars in Tangiers, and so on and so on.
It’s almost enough to make a person think seriously about mixing up a pitcher of margaritas, setting up an inflatable kiddie pool, and taking your vacation in the comfort and security of your own home! Almost…
Add to all this, a news story I heard literally just a few minutes ago about VISA’s fraud investigation into self-service kiosks at Pearson Airport in Toronto.
The experts on the radio warn that it’s probably not a good idea to use your passport for identification when getting a boarding pass from a self-service kiosks.
At least, they say, if you use your airline booking number and credit card for identification, if the machine has been compromised and your personal information is swiped, you can call the credit card company and put their anti-fraud experts on the job. (I don’t imagine the credit card companies like that much, but hey, too bad, right? It’s a major inconvenience to you, yes, but a fraudulent credit card charge is way less life-stoppingly horrendous than the risk of having your whole identity stolen!
The news story this morning is one of those ‘synchronicity’ things — for two reasons:
- Just yesterday there was a newsletter from my insurance agent with a whole big write-up about identity theft.
- The nice folks at Equifax have launched a new identity-theft prevention product called ID Patrol — and they’ve given me 3 free trials to give away to readers of DomestikGoddess.com.
Equifax will keep an eye on your credit card activity for suspicious stuff. They’ll lock your credit file so that you’ll know exactly who is asking to look at it. They’ll even scan all sorts of hidden Internet sites where identity thieves buy and sell people’s stolen personal information. Can we say, Peace of mind?
The ID Patrol identity protection service is only applicable in the US right now, alas, or I’d grab one of these freebies for myself:
ID Patrol Free Trial Giveaway
Here’s how to snag your free trial:
- Live in the United States.
- Be one of the first three readers to say “ID Patrol, please!” or words to that effect.
Just post a comment below or send me an email (jen @ domestikgoddess.com) to let me know if you’d like to try ID Patrol for free. I’ll email the secret code to the first three American readers who request it.
Now, a give-away doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?
And just because I care —
Here are a couple bonus tips from Equifax on how to protect yourself from identity theft in your daily life at home:
Know who’s calling
If you receive a call from anyone requesting personal identification information, you should not share any information before verifying the caller’s identity. If the caller claims to be calling on behalf of a specific organization, take the necessary steps to confirm the person’s relationship to that company. You may want to record the caller’s name and telephone number to call them back upon verification of their identity and association with a particular company.
Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry told the telemarketer it wasn’t a good time for him, and asked for the caller’s home number so he could call him back later? They never seem to go for that turn-around, do they?!
Put your shredder to work
Use a shredder to dispose of pre-approved credit card offers and other mail and documents displaying your name and personal information. It only takes a simple phone call for an identity thief to activate a pre-approved credit card in your name. Simply throwing these types of offers and other forms of personal identifiable information in the trash is not enough –- identity thieves are not above rummaging through your trash.
If something’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing, I always say! Around here, all those sorts of sensitive papers go first through the shredder, then the shredded bits go into the compost bin with the coffee grounds and slimy old vegetable peelings.
But what if there’s some ambitious fraud-artist out there who’s ready to paw through my compost bin, find the soggy strips of junk mail, piece them together, and pretend to be me?
That’s what I believe the guys in dark suits and earphones would call an acceptable risk!