It can be hard to remember to protect your identity while you’re on vacation or planning a trip, but identity theft can strike in a variety of ways at any time, and it’s something everyone should keep in mind. During high travel season, travel scams often pop up looking to take advantage of people as they book their vacation, and while they’re on a “fun in the sun” trip.
There are many ways travel scams can reach potential vacationers, according to AAA. When booking travel, some of the industry best practices for protecting credit card data and other personally identifying information apply generally. But the dangers don’t end with booking. Identity theft could happen at any time, on the road or even in a different country.
Here are some tips to help you prepare to better protect your identity while traveling this summer.
Things to do before hitting the road
- When booking your reservations for you travel, including transportation, lodging and other activities, make sure you’re using a secure and reputable site. AAA recommends that people only book travel through well-known sites they recognize or can find solid information about online. Additionally, any site that doesn’t have a secure checkout page (easily spotted with the “https://” prefix and lock icon before the web address) should be avoided.
- Lock up you home before leaving for you trip against potential theft, id or otherwise. Thieves will often target homes that are empty for vacation or holiday travel to steal valuables and personal information. While there’s no surefire way to prevent a break-in, there are simple steps you can take, such as ensuring all windows and doors are locked before leaving and setting timers for lights and other devices so that homes appear occupied while your away.
- Resist posting every intimate detail of your upcoming trip on social media. While your friends may enjoy it, it could also lead to ill-intentioned individuals taking advantage of an empty house. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, suspend your newspaper and postal service delivery to avoid the tell-tale signs of an empty house. And, for extra caution, have a trusted friend or neighbor keep an eye on the house while you’re away.
- Secure all sensitive documents including Social Security cards and birth certificates in a locked safe that’s hidden away somewhere on the property. This is a good idea to do regardless of vacation time. You could even stow away smaller valuables like jewelry when you’re away from home. Therefore, even if a thief does gain access to your house, they are less likely to have access to your identity.
Things to do while on vacation
- Guard critical documents, like driver’s licenses, personal IDs and passports (if traveling abroad) in a safe place while traveling. This can be either the hotel room safe, behind the front desk, or just hidden on your person, in a small fanny pack or a close kept purse. Hotel room locks have been reported to be easy to hack, according to an article in Business Travel Life, and easy targets because of the variety of visitors hotels at all hours of the day and night.
- Update your password protections and other layers of security on mobile devices like phones, tablets and laptops, as suggested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The more that can be done to keep those devices discretely stowed away in public and secured in private could result in a safer experience.
- Use safe browsing habits when connected to public Wi-Fi or hotspots. On open connections, hackers or identity thieves could be using the same connection to intercept of steal he information you’re sending. Using the hotel’s password protected connection or your phone’s network when checking banking information or other sensitive sites can help protect vital data.
- Avoid using your debit card or a card connected to your bank account when swiping abroad. While it may be a good way to keep an eye on overspending, if a hacker uses a credit card skimmer to access your information, they could effectively empty your bank account without your knowledge. Many credit cards include fraud monitoring and fund replacement that debit cards may not offer. Check your card agreements and protections before traveling to ensure that you’re using the best method to protect your information before traveling.
In general, the best defense against travel-related fraud is often as simple as staying vigilant and using common sense. Finding as many ways to protect your identity as possible is always going to be a good idea when making travel plans. Learn more about your identity theft protection through Identity Guard. Through credit monitoring and alerts that will inform you of certain activity that may indicated fraud on your credit files, Identity Guard is always working to help you protect your information while at home and abroad.
Learn more about how Heritage Valley FCU has partnered with Identity Guard to provide a safe and secure solution to you at www.identityguard.com/HVFCU.