The holiday season can be a great opportunity to travel, because it’s a festive time of year when you get a vacation from work and your kids finally have a break from school. You might be going to visit your extended family across the country or hopping on a flight to Paris. Wherever you’re going, you’ll definitely have a better time if you can successfully avoid identity theft during your travels.The holidays are a hectic time, and it’s easy to misplace belongings and forget to practice vigilance, especially when you’re in a place that’s unfamiliar to you. You’ll be glad you prepared yourself, though, when you return from your trip relaxed and reinvigorated, with all of your personal information secure. Here are some tips for protecting your identity while you travel:
- Alert your card companies: You may want to call your credit card companies and let them know your travel plans. This will keep them from putting a hold on your card if they see a purchase was made in an unusual location. A quick notification can also keep your bank on the lookout for signs of travel-related id theft.
- Check your bank statements: Once you return home, check your bank statements more frequently just to be sure your information wasn’t compromised while you were traveling. Only login to your account over secure internet connections, and always use a strong password.
- Don’t leave your mail: If you’re going to be out of town for a long time, consider having the Post Office hold your mail. Thieves sometimes intercept checks, credit card offers and financial statements that contain your personal information.
- Don’t overshare: Avoid announcing your trip on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Not only do you not want to alert everyone to your present location, but your house is always vulnerable when you leave town. It’s best not to advertise your departure to more people than you have to.
- Lock it up: If your hotel room has a safe, be sure to lock up sensitive documents like your passport. You should never leave personal information sitting around no matter where you are.
- Say no to stand-alone ATMs: If you need to withdraw cash, it’s best to visit an actual bank. Stand-alone ATM machines can be more risky targets for ‘card skimmers’ which allow thieves to copy the magnetic strip on your card and make a convincing fraudulent copy later.
- Watch for pickpockets: When you’re traveling, stay aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your wallet. This will save you the hassle of cancelling your credit cards while you’re on vacation.
- Watch what you bring: You will need your driver’s license and a credit card, but it’s not really necessary to take along your Social Security card. Carrying this in your wallet only makes you more vulnerable to identity theft. If you’re not traveling abroad, you should also consider leaving your passport in your safe at home.
If you’re traveling during the holidays and are concerned about identity theft, you might want to consider investing in a credit monitoring service for added peace of mind. It can alert you to certain signs that may indicate fraud.