Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Surfs up

"Surfing" is the name given to the crime when someone looks over someone else's shoulder and reads their personal information...might be their pin number, might be their address or account number etc.

Probably the most daring I heard about was the guy - and his family - caught by an alert airport cop in California. He was hanging round the airport with his wife and kids and pretending to film them with his video cam. His cam however had a zoom lens and he'd film people's credit card info when they were holding them up to make calls on the phones that required to pay by card and punch your info in.

He only got busted when the cop, who really needs a pat on the back for being on the ball, saw him two days in a row and thought it odd. He surreptitiously watched for a while, figured out what was going on, and took the guy, and his wife and kids, down.

Another old favourite version of this was (and still is) to go to the airport and stand in line behind someone dim enough to have their name and address label on their luggage. The enterprising crook would make a note of the info and then go hit your house knowing full well you wouldn't discover the crime until you got back from your trip.

What can you do? Awareness is the first step in defense. Now you know to keep your personal info, pin #s and credit cards etc personal i.e. don't wave them all over the place and be careful of who is standing right behind you, and what they're doing.

If you're going to travel, it's true the airlines will make you use a luggage name tag...but no one can force you to put it on the outside of your bag. As long as it is on or in the bag somewhere that's fine. If you have the money, swanky luggage has the leather tag with a flap over the pertinent info so it will only be visible if someone physically peels the tag back and looks. Great to have, and worth the money.

Beware the surfers.


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