Summer is approaching, and it’s a great time to travel and visit new places by car. While road trips are fun adventures, they’re also serious risks if you’re not careful. Visiting a lot of new places at once and essentially living out of your car for an extended period of time means you’re more vulnerable than normal to scams and fraud.
To help you avoid these incidents, we’ve outlined some of the best tips for safe road trips. Be sure to learn these before you hit the road so identity theft doesn’t ruin your journey.
Protect your vehicle
Road trips mean a lot of time spent in the car, but it also means plenty of time away from it as well. In these moments when you’re out exploring new places and leaving your car unattended, make sure the vehicle is secure. If you’re not properly locking your car, thieves can steal from you the valuables that you may leave out in the open or the documents in your glove compartment.
You should also keep your wallet on you at all times so a thief can’t steal your license, credit cards or other important important items while you’re sightseeing. When you’re using lodging, you can ask for safe access to lock up important documents and other valuable items. They’ll be much more secure in there than in your parked car.
Use secure connections only
Some say home is where the Wi-Fi is, and while there’s a light hearted nature to the statement, there is also some truth to it. No connection is as secure as the private one you have at home, so keep that in mind while you’re traveling this summer. If you must use public internet connections, make sure you don’t make online purchases or divulge any personal information while on it. This can increase your vulnerability to identity theft.
Know how to spot card skimmers
While you’re traveling from one spot to the next, there will be one constant throughout your trip: the gas station. Since gas stations began accepting credit card payments at the pump, fraudsters have been installing card skimmers to steal card numbers and other information off of unsuspecting customers.
To protect yourself, you’ll need to know how to identify card skimmers. First, look for any signs of damage or tampering on the machine. PC Magazine explains that some indications of tampering include poorly aligned graphics, loose parts and different color or material on the card reader or keyboard. If you notice these changes, it’s best to avoid using that machine. For reference, you can also compare that card reader to those on nearby pumps.
Another way to avoid them is by paying in cash. However, card skimmers are also prevalent on public ATMs, so make sure you’re using the same precautions when using these on your trip. Try to use a secure ATM whenever possible, especially if you use a national bank with locations all over the U.S.
While you’re on the road this summer, you can always enlist extra help to keep an eye on your information. You can invest in a service like Identity Guard, which can monitor your credit files and notify you of certain activity that may indicate fraud.