Anyone can fall victim to identity fraud, and the result damage to their credit history, at any time. Having said that, travel brings additional risks to your personal information, for various reasons. And, the longer you travel or the farther you venture, you might put yourself at increased risk.
Of course, no one is saying that you shouldn’t enjoy summer in Paris or board that Alaskan cruise. Just take these steps to keep your identity and credit history more secure.
Don’t take more than you need. If your wallet is stolen on the trip, you don’t want to be stuck calling ten different credit and debit card companies. Take only the card(s) you need, and lock up the rest in a safe at home.
Post updates about your trip…. Only after you’ve returned. Social media provides a terrific way to keep in touch with family and friends, but can also open you up to theft. Don’t post about your trip until you’ve returned, or you might tip off would-be thieves who target your home for a burglary.
Credit is safer than debit. Credit card companies offer superior fraud and theft protections, as compared to debit cards. Each time you swipe a card, there is a small risk of data theft… So it’s wise to use only credit cards when traveling.
Take care when using ATMs. Only use machines in brightly lit, populated locations, and watch for odd behavior around you.
Lower your daily cash withdrawal limit. In the event that your card is stolen, this will lessen the amount of damage a thief can do.
Keep a copy of your card company’s number in a secure place. If your card is lost or stolen, you will have this number handy right away.
Continue monitoring card activity. While you’re relaxing and having fun, take a break to check your card activity once per day. Log into your account online, or use your card company’s mobile app, and report any unfamiliar charges immediately.
Avoid hotel and restaurant WiFi. It’s better to use your mobile connection when shopping online or logging into your credit or banking accounts. Many public hotspots are not secure.
Sign up for text alerts. If your card company offers them, text alerts are a terrific feature. Your phone will buzz to notify you of charges when they are made.
Be wary with other cards, as well. If your wallet is lost or stolen, you might believe that only your debit or credit cards include dangerous information. Unfortunately, even a health insurance card might display enough info to help a crook steal your identity. Be very careful with any cards that display your Social Security number, in particular.
Remember that we’re always available if you have questions about your short-term or long-term financial plans. In the meantime, enjoy your vacation, and safe travels!