Incidences of identity theft are on the increase worldwide and travelers are often targets. Identity thieves know that travelers usually carry passports and other important documents containing personal information. Therefore, it is important to keep your personal information secure while traveling to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. The following tips will help keep your travels worry free and your information safe from identity thieves.
Steps to Protect Against Identity Theft
- Leave Social Security cards at home in a safe and secure place, unavailable to anyone who may be watching your house or pets while you are away.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for banking or social media. These networks rarely use encryption, regardless of how “safe” they say they are. Thieves continuously scan for unsuspecting people surfing the Internet or checking their bank accounts and may be able to access your account and steal your information through an open network.
- Understand the security policy of your hotel. If there is not a secure safe available in your room, consider using the hotel safe for passports and other important personal documents.
- Avoid using the hotel computer to access your bank accounts or email accounts that contain personal information. It is best not to enter your passwords on a public device.
- Keep laptops and smart phones close-by at all times or lock them in a safe. These devices contain a treasure trove of information for identity thieves and are easy to steal due to their size.
- Enable SMS services during your trip and use two factor authentication when logging into social media, email and banking websites and apps.
- If you are traveling for an extended period of time, consider freezing your credit accounts to prevent thieves from checking your credit and opening new accounts in your name.
- After returning from your trip, be vigilant and check credit reports and statements for suspicious activity. If you do not recognize purchases on your credit card, immediately report the event to your bank.
While keeping a close eye on your accounts and property requires knowledge and diligence, it is well worth the effort to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Also, be sure to compare and purchase travel insurance to protect your investment in your trip. Many travel insurance plans actually include identity theft resolution services as part of the 24/7 emergency assistance services benefit in a policy. With this type of assistance, the insurer can help with a variety of matters such as filing police reports, fraud alert placement, disputing fraudulent charges and reporting identity theft to the FTC.