I don’t go anywhere without my Anti Theft RFID safe travel wallet. It’s as much a part of my daily essentials as my phone or car keys. I’ll tell you quite honestly I am probably a bit too attached to it. However, I learned the hard way the importance of a travel wallet, and the consequences of leaving your personal information unguarded.

I can still remember opening the debt collectors envelope. I had worked a long day at my new job and had just got home, taken my shoes off and sat back on the couch to read the mysterious letter that was addressed to me in scruffy handwriting. My first thought was – obviously – that the envelope contained a love letter. It wasn’t until I read the line that said something along the lines of ‘if you don’t pay the $7,000 you owe by the end of the month we will be forced to take you to court’ that I realised I wasn’t being invited on the bachelor, or being whisked off on an international holiday. My heart dropped. I rang the debt collection agency, angry and confused. I didn’t even have an account with the company I was being accused of owing a significant amount of money to. I had been out of the country for three months, there was no way I could have racked up these bills… right? The man on the other line asked me where I lived and what my address was  and figured out pretty quickly there was something fishy going on – I didn’t even live in the city the address on the account was linked to. I got off the phone with direct orders to send him through a complete itinerary of my whereabouts over the last three months.

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My voice wavered and my hands shook as I dialled my mum’s work line. She answered on the first ring and before she could even say hello I blurted the terrible truth out. “Mum, I think I’ve had my identity stolen.”

Identity theft happens. To this day I don’t know how my identity/bank details ended up in someone else’s hands. Fortunately I was working at Luggage.co.nz when I first heard my identity had been stolen, and invested in a travel wallet the very next day.

Whoever stole my identity knew exactly what they were doing, and worked unbelievably quickly to rack up as much money they could in my name before they were stopped. After much investigation, I was able to prove it wasn’t me that had spent all that money, and it was wiped from my record – a huge relief for me and my parents.

I realise I am one of the lucky ones. For some, the theft of their identity follows them around like a dark cloud. Stuff.co.nz reckons in 2016 New Zealanders were scammed out of $1 billion through identity theft. The learning – it’s not just happening overseas, its happening at home too! Protect yourself from unseen criminals and invest in a travel wallet.

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