Do you plan on taking any trips this holiday season? Whether you are taking a road trip to visit your family or trekking to a distant country, it’s important to make sure that you do not take any unnecessary risks while doing so. That includes protecting yourself against credit card fraud and identity theft.
Instances of identity theft are unfortunately becoming more common in the U.S., and the holiday season is one of the most active times for thieves. Consumers are making more purchases than usual, which increases the odds that someone else may get a hold of your credit card numbers and start racking up debt under your name. But even during the rest of the year, traveling anywhere increases your risk of having your personal information compromised.
There are two main ways that this can happen.
First, and most obviously, thieves can rob you while you are on a trip. A recent survey from Experian found that more than 86 percent of all travelers take their driver’s licenses, 82 percent their credit cards, and 67 percent their debit cards with them on their trips and keep them on their person. This isn’t a huge surprise and can often be a necessity — especially for road trips — but it does demand additional caution. If you’re going to keep important cards and other information in your wallet or purse, you need to make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. Don’t let a pickpocket ruin your trip because you weren’t paying attention.
Another common way that identity thieves can get you during a vacation is when they break into your empty home. If you are gone for more than a few days at a time, it isn’t much of a challenge for thieves to intercept your mail or even enter your dwelling. Most of us do not spend too much time trying to hide our sensitive personal documents in our homes, and thieves can exploit this fact to their advantage. It’s important to have a good security system in place to prevent break-ins, and it also helps to ask a trusted neighbor to collect your mail if you are going to be gone for a lengthy period of time.
The worst aspect of identity theft isn’t the money you lose. It’s the long-term damage to your credit and your peace of mind. Even when instances of ID theft are caught early by the victims, it can take months to fully sort out what happened and move to prevent further financial damage.
That’s why it is best to be proactive. If you have concerns about identity theft, be sure to invest in a credit monitoring service, which can notify you of certain activities that may indicate fraud. This can give you much-needed peace of mind, allowing you to rest assured that you’re taking important measures to safeguard your identity.