Don’t let ID theft ruin your vacation

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July 10, 2017

More help on having a safe vacation this year. From the Daily Times Opinion:

Summer is nearly here and many of us are preparing for our long-anticipated summer vacation. Whether it’s to the beach for a long weekend or a trip overseas, don’t let your guard down against identity theft this summer – it happens more frequently than you may think.

According to a June 16, 2015 survey commissioned by Experian’s ProtectMyID, 39 percent of travelers have either fallen victim to identity theft while traveling, or know someone who has – a nine point increase from the year prior. Additionally, 26 percent do not take any precautions against identity theft when they travel1. However, there are a number of safeguards you can implement while traveling to help prevent identity theft and to help keep your finances and personal information safe. Here are some of the tips I provide to my clients before they head out of town:

ALERT YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY

This might seem simple, but I hear from clients all too often that they don’t contact their credit card company before they travel. This is especially important if you are traveling to another country, where you’ll be making out of the ordinary purchases. This will not only help your credit card company to identify fraudulent purchases if your card is stolen while you are traveling, but it may help protect you from having your credit card “frozen” as a result of abnormal spending.

ONLY BRING ESSENTIALS AND HAVE EXTRA COPIES

According to the ProtectMyID survey, 47 percent of travelers bring along unnecessary credit and debit cards when they travel1. While I would always recommend having an extra credit card and some cash in case of an emergency, I don’t believe you should carry all of your cards when traveling. This will ensure that you still have access to at least one credit or debit card if your wallet is misplaced or stolen.

I also highly recommend bringing a photocopy of your passport, driver’s license and any additional important documents you travel with – and leave a photocopy at home with someone as well. If any of your documents are lost or stolen, you’ll have a much easier time sorting it out if you have a photocopy to produce as backup.

USE EMAIL AND WIFI WISELY

Be careful when using public WiFi or the computer in your hotel’s lobby. While you may feel secure, it’s best to be cautious and to refrain from logging into your bank account while traveling, if at all possible, as these public domains can be targets for hackers.

A May 2014 CNN Money article, “Half of American adults hacked this year,” found that 110 million Americans had their personal information compromised in the year prior — many of those originating from email hacking2. Since email hacking is so prominent, and because public WiFi isn’t always safe when you are traveling, never share your financial account numbers and online log-in details via email. Sharing your account information and other personal details via email makes you all the more vulnerable to identity theft if your email is hacked while you’re away.

PROTECT WHAT YOU POST

While this might be tough advice to follow, I believe it is best to limit what you post on social media when you are traveling. Posting photos from another country can alert hackers and identity thieves that you are out of town. This doesn’t mean you can’t post at all – just be careful about tagging your location, and make sure to protect your posts so that only your approved network can see them.

While vacation is of course a time for rest and relaxation, don’t forget to take precautions to help protect yourself and help keep your identity secure.

Contact:
Phil Liso, Contact
(562) 322-7376