How to Avoid Identity Theft While Traveling

identity theft
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Many things can make travel stressful. We imagine missing our flights, having our baggage lost or our hotel looking quite different than it did on its website. One thing we don’t often think about is how traveling increases our risk of becoming victims of identity theft. Here are some pro-active measures to take while traveling that will help to minimize that risk that identity theft will ruin your holiday.

  • Stop your mail: Even if you have a neighbor that you trust enough to pick up your mail every day, it is much safer to have your mail held at the post office.
  • Don’t broadcast to the world that your house will be empty: A Facebook status which states “Off to Miami…see y’all in a week!!!” may seem like a nice way to let your friends know you are out of town, but thieves may also see this and now know that they can find a home to target that will be empty for the next week.
  • Opt for credit rather than debit: When making purchases choose the credit option rather than the debit option or use a credit card. The easiest way to explain this is that if fraud occurs on debit the bank must work to get your money back, but if it occurs using credit the bank is working to get their money back. Which do you think is going to prove to be more successful?
  • Use Public Wifi cautiously: Many hotels and airports are now offering free wifi to travelers. This may seem like the ultimate convenience, but could prove problematic in the long run.  Using public wifi puts you on a network with everyone else using that public wifi. This means that you have no idea who has access to many of the files on your computer once you log in. If you do have to use public wifi, be very cautious about what you use it for. Do not complete banking transactions, purchases or anything else where your personal information could be hijacked and used by identity thieves.
  • Watch out for shoulder surfing: During our travels we are often put in much closer proximity than we would like to be with people we don’t know. Whether it is in an airport, a tram or hotel lobby people who can overhear your conversation can hear your personal information should you mention it while booking a hotel room or checking your bank account. Be aware of people standing unnecessarily close to you and avoid divulging personal information while in close quarters with strangers.
  • Only carry what you need: When out and about only take with you what you will need for the time you will be away from your hotel room. There is no need to carry all six of your credit cards for an afternoon of zip lining. Additional items which hold pieces of personal information should be kept in the safe in your hotel room. There also items that you should not need during your trip unless you are traveling to multiple locations. Things such as your passport can remain in your safe for the duration of your trip. Also, your laptop should be stored in your room’s safe when not in use.

The point of a vacation is to get away from the stresses of life and relax. Use these helpful tips to avoid the headache of identity theft while traveling…and by all means…. Have some fun!!!

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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.