Traveling for the holidays?
We’re accustomed to traveler worries like pick pocketing and the loss of personal items. But identity theft has potentially far more disastrous consequences than losing cash or jewelry. Before you take off, review this checklist to make sure you’re safe from identity theft while you’re on the road.
- Don’t pack More Than You Need. Take only essential credit cards and identity cards with you, and leave everything else at home. This includes laptops, iPads, smartphones and other electronics that store personal information. This also helps when you’re away from your hotel room, since you’ll be able to carry the essentials with you.
- Be Careful When Banking. When getting cash in new locations, use ATMs located within a bank branch if possible. Card readers are becoming increasingly common, which thieves install in ATMs to capture your account and PIN numbers. Cover the keypad at all times to prevent others from seeing your PIN codes.
- Be Careful When Logging onto a Computer. If you’re using an internet café or public computer, make sure you’re on a well-protected one with updated security software – not from a free Wi-Fi hotspot. And never auto-save your information on computers, especially public computers.
- Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards. Just as you can do at home, use credit cards when traveling, since you can easily dispute a charge if a problem arises.
- Freeze Your Credit Temporarily. If you have the financial flexibility to do so, and you don’t plan on opening any new credit lines in the near future, you can put a temporary freeze on your credit. This requires additional verification for someone trying to fraudulently open an account in your name. You may also set up a Fraud Alert on your credit before traveling, which expires in 90 days and doesn’t cost anything.
Finally: Don’t forget to review all your home security measures before traveling as well, since home burglaries increase dramatically during holiday periods.
For more tips on preventing identity theft, you can check out 7 Things You Can Do To Protect Yourself from Identity Theft