The Best Ways To Help Prevent Identity Theft On Vacation
Nanci M. Verna, ACC
1. Hang onto those important items
Seems to be really obvious, but the best way to not have your identity stolen is to not have your wallet, passport, or credit cards stolen. And awareness is the first step in making that happen.
Know where these documents are at all times. Be obsessive about it, but not to the point where you’re continually checking their location – by patting a pocket, for instance. Determine a secure location for these items, put them there, and be aware that they’re there. Check surreptitiously when no one is around.
For those obsessed with keeping their documents safe, consider a pouch or belt, or the “pickpocket-proof” clothing.
2. Avoid public computers and WIFI
A public computer or WIFI network is a little like a sandwich you find laying on the street. You don’t know who had it, where it’s been, or how it got there. If you need to use a computer when you travel, bring your own, and if you can’t avoid public WIFI, don’t do any online banking.
"Be cautious using free WIFI hotspots because they might exist solely for the purpose of stealing personal data. Do not enter or access any of your personal information while on them. When traveling, the DSL connection in your hotel room is generally more secure," advises Paige Schaffer, CEO of Global Identity and Digital Protection Services at Generali Global Assistance.
One way to get safe WIFI on a trip is with a device like Skyroam Solis. You can keep connected to the important people and information in your life without using risky public WIFI networks when you travel. This secure WIFI hotspot and power bank will keep you online in more than 130 countries.
3. Consider a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure way for you to access the internet from anywhere. Many businesses have VPNs set up for their business travelers; if you’re traveling for pleasure and don’t have access to a business VPN, consider an app-based VPN like IVPN, SaferVPN or Nord VPN.
4. Clean out your wallet
If your wallet is typical, it’s jammed with multiple credit cards, a library card, a couple of discount cards, some nearly expired gift cards, insurance cards, and an obedience-school graduation photo of your neighbor’s dog. Reduce the contents of your wallet to what you actually need for your trip. Your pocket will thank you, too.
5. Let your credit card company know you’re traveling
Call, email or visit your credit-card provider and let them know where you’re traveling and when. This will help them better identify suspicious charges.
6. Shred boarding passes
Boarding passes are storehouses of personal data that can be used to steal flyers’ identities. The best thing to do is shred boarding passes after they’ve been used – or better yet, download the airline app and store your boarding passes on your phone. Now all you have to do is remember to hang onto your phone.
7. Change passwords
Change sensitive passwords – for banks and credit cards, for instance – before you travel and again when you come back home. This will help deter identity thieves and give you some extra peace of mind as well. Just don’t forget your new passwords!
8. Be choosy about ATMs
Use ATMs in well-lit areas like airports or banks. Don’t use ATMs at night. Carefully inspect the ATM before using it, looking for possible cameras around key readers or overhead. Cover the keyboard with your hand when entering your PIN.
9. Check your credit score – before and after you travel
Sometimes your credit score will show identity theft before you even know it’s happened. You may also want to use an identity monitoring program to ensure your account numbers aren’t being circulated on the black web.