Identity thieves are always looking for victims, and travelers can be easy targets. Avoid making careless mistakes when relaxing on vacation or preparing for a trip.
Don’t Let Everyone Know You’re Traveling
Don’t discuss your travel plans in public social media posts. Criminals use social media to pick homes to burglarize while the owners are away. Only notify specific people you want to know about your trip, and don’t post photos of your vacation on social media until after you’ve returned.
An overflowing mailbox is an obvious clue that no one is home. An identity thief could steal your mail, which could include financial statements filled with sensitive information. Ask someone you trust to pick up your mail while you’re away or have the post office hold it until you get back.
Protect Your Cards and Documents
Only take credit cards you need, and leave unnecessary ones at home. Contact all your credit card providers, and let them know when and where you’ll be traveling. That way, if you use a card while visiting a place where you don’t routinely make purchases, it won’t be flagged as fraud. Also, if you leave a card at home and someone steals it and tries to use it, the card issuer will know that you’re traveling and that the transaction is fraudulent.
Keep an eye on your credit cards. Don’t let a restaurant employee walk away with your card. It’s easy for someone to use a device to save the information for criminal purposes.
Electronic devices can steal account information from ATM users. If you need to use an ATM while traveling, a machine at a bank is less likely to be compromised than one at a place frequented by tourists. You should also avoid making credit card purchases using public computers or public Wi-Fi networks.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a hotel employee and asking for credit card information, hang up. Then call the front desk or go there in person to find out if the issue is legitimate or if someone was trying to steal your credit card information.
Many people carry documents in their wallet that they don’t need on a regular basis, such as a Social Security card. If a criminal gets ahold of that number, it can be the key to stealing your identity and opening fraudulent accounts in your name. Leave your Social Security card at home. If you’re traveling abroad, keep your passport with you in a safe location (not in your back pocket, which is an easy target for pickpockets), or leave it in the safe at your hotel.
We’re all vulnerable to identity theft, but people tend to let their guard down when they’re away from home or planning a vacation. Criminals capitalize on that lax attitude to target victims. Be cautious when traveling and when discussing your plans with others so you don’t become a victim of identity theft.