Vacations are meant to be a break from everyday worries. If an identity theft incident happens, it can quickly ruin a vacation. Unfortunately, travelers can be an easy target for this type of theft since scammers know that travelers have a lot of key identification with them and also left back at home. Here are important steps to take to protect this important information.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Hold mail delivery
To ensure important documents with sensitive personal information are not stolen from your mailbox while you are gone, hold mail delivery until you return. All it takes is filling out a form online at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/. Enter the date for the hold, when you want the delivery service to begin again and how you want to receive your mail after the hold period is over.
Contact financial institutions
Let your bank and credit card issuers know when and where you’ll be traveling. It helps them stop any fraudulent transactions that originate from places you are not and reduces the risk of your cards being frozen when you want to use them.
Protect cell phones, computers and tablets
Your electronic devices have information that can put you at risk for identity theft. Make it more difficult for a thief to access your personal information if they get their hands on your devices by adding security measures such as setting a password on the device and deleting sensitive apps with personal data.
Go through your wallet or purse and take out anything you don’t need. One primary credit card and a backup may be enough. Make sure you never carry your Social Security card (even when not traveling).
Be wary of public Wi-Fi
Criminals may try to eavesdrop on public Wi-Fi networks. Because of this, never access financial data on public computers. Even on password protected Wi-Fi networks such as hotel networks, passwords can be too freely available and used to steal unsuspecting users. If you know you will need to access financial data while traveling, extra precautions such as setting a virtual private network (VPN) may be necessary,
Use good habits when using debit and credit cards
It’s best to use ATMs at actual banks instead of machines at bars, restaurants and other locations. Fraudsters may have tampered with the machines allowing them to steal your information. Avoid letting your payment cards get out of sight. It’s too easy for someone to take a picture of the card or write down the information.
Lock up unnecessary items in hotel safe
Use the hotel safe to store valuables and documents such as tickets, excess cash and backup credit card. Don’t leave sensitive documents or unprotected devices lying around your room while you are out for the day.
You can’t be 100% protected from identity theft but adding extra safety precautions will ease your mind and make your travels and return home less stressful and more enjoyable.
At Blankinship & Foster, we help our clients with far more than investment management. We provide proactive, personalized advice on all aspects of their finances. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.