Travel Smart and Protect Your Identity
That vacation you’ve been dreaming about is finally here. You’ve slaved over the itinerary, booked your stay at an amazing hotel and are all set to go. The last thing you want to worry about is your identity being stolen.
More than 17 million U.S. residents experienced identity theft in 2014. With identity theft at an all-time high, take these simple steps to protect your identity when you travel.
Before You Go
Put your mail on hold
Stop by your local post office and ask for a “hold mail” form, call the postal service at 800-275-8777 and ask to schedule a mail hold over the phone or fill out the form online. You can also ask a friend or neighbor to hold your mail for you.
Set up a travel notification
You can avoid having your debit or credit card denied at the register by setting up a travel alert with your bank. You will want to call your bank and credit card companies to notify them that you’ll be traveling or set up a travel alert on your bank website or mobile app.
If your luggage is prone to getting lost or stolen, pack lightly to avoid having your favorite items go missing.
As Rick Steves says: “Remember, in your travels you’ll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had. Say it out loud: ‘PACK LIGHT PACK LIGHT PACK LIGHT.'”
Leave your checkbook behind
Do not pack your checkbook, social security card or unnecessary credit cards when you travel. Bringing these items on your trip increases your chances of having them stolen and therefore reduces your ability to protect your identity.
Install “Find My Phone” app
Whether you own an iPhone or Android and just forgot where you left your phone or had it stolen, there’s an app to help you find it. Download the appropriate app for your phone on iTunes.
Buy a money belt
Pick-pockets are everywhere and have several tricks when it comes to stealing from you. Sometimes they dance and sometimes they engage in conversation. Protect your ID, passport, credit cards, travel insurance and cash with a money belt when you travel. You’ll find the latest and greatest money belts on Amazon.com.
Hold off on social media photos
We know the desire to tell everyone you’re going on vacation is high. However, with identity thieves trolling the internet, consider either creating a shared photo album with family and friends or hold off on sharing photos on social media until you return from your travels.
- Use cash when possible
- Use ATMS located inside bank lobbies
- Use secure internet connections
- Don’t leave important documents or financials laying around
- Lock your phone
- Take advantage of the hotel safe for important documents and items
- Check your bank and credit card statements
- Check your credit report for accuracy
Did you know: You are entitled to a free report every year from www.annualcreditreport.com?
If you find that you need to improve your credit score, read our latest blog post for tips to Get Your Credit in Shape.