Game Day Crowds Bring Both Excitement and Increased Threat of Theft

23 September 2015

This year, the professional hockey season officially begins in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs and Canadiens will face off in the year’s first NHL match-up. If you’re headed to the rink for a game this season, there’s no doubt you’ll plan for a crowd. You’ll leave early to avoid traffic and rush out of your seat at intermission to beat long concession stand queues, but one of the last things on your mind will probably be protecting your identity. While many of us tend to think of identity theft as a technological threat, thieves see large crowds as the perfect environment in which to steal personal information from unsuspecting fans.

At crowded sporting events, you often get used to the bumping and jostling of a crowd before they even enter the arena. This hustle and bustle is the perfect cover for pickpockets, who can nab a wallet and disappear into the crowd long before you notice you have been robbed. By that time, it’s likely that your credit cards are already being used to make fraudulent purchases and, depending on what information you were carrying, your bank accounts could be compromised as well. Even after cancelling your cards, you could continue to experience problems if the thieves placed your information for sale on the web.

Next time you find yourself in a crowd, especially at a sporting event where there is a lot of excitement that can distract you from your belongings, protect yourself by making it difficult for a thief to access your information. Before you head to the arena, clear your wallet or purse of any cards you don’t need for your trip. When you arrive, make sure to keep your purse or bag fully zipped at all times, dissuading pickpockets looking for an easy target. If you’re carrying a purse, loop the strap over your shoulder and have the clasp-side of the purse against the front of your body for the best protection. If it fits, keep your wallet in your front pocket rather than your back pocket to make it less enticing to thieves.

Even if you are diligent about keeping your physical belongings safe, the close-quarters environment of a crowd lends itself to fraudsters hoping to catch you giving away other personal data, such as the PIN to your debit card. If you use your card to pay at a concession stand or other crowded kiosk, make sure to cover the keypad with your other hand while you punch in your PIN to prevent prying eyes from catching a glimpse. Similarly, refrain from making any purchases over the phone in crowded areas, as you never know who could be listening.

Another way you can stay vigilant is to sign up for a credit monitoring service. This will help you keep track of your credit reports and possibly alert you to certain behavior in your accounts that may signal identity theft. With an identity protection service watching your back, you will be free to watch the game.