Identity theft is a growing problem…and it can be especially troubling for travelers.
Did you know that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016.
That is about 1 in every 16 adults! So, how do you protect your identity when you travel? Here are some tips for you:
- Unpack Critical Documents before Travel - including social security cards, bank statements, checkbooks, and extra credit cards
- Beware of Unsecure wi-fi Networks – at coffee shops, hotels, the airport, and other public places. Do not share personal information! These public wi-fi networks lack data encryption protection!
- Lock your smartphone when traveling. Your emails, texts, photos, contacts, and apps are all at risk! Log out of apps before you travel, and protect your phone with a home screen locking password. Depending on the type of phone you have, it could be a numerical code, a unique swiping pattern, or fingerprint scan. Don’t use obvious numerical codes like 1111 or your birth year!
- Take a Combination of Cash and Cards - When traveling always have a combination of cash and cards on hand. Use the credit cards at airports, major chains, and shops that clearly use secure payment systems. Use cash when there is the slightest doubt about the security of a seller’s methods – or when you cannot see where they are going to take your card. Also, only carry what you need that day – lock the rest in a safe place.
- Use ATMs carefully - Only use secure Bank ATMs. Scammers can install card readers in an ATM which can access your card number and PIN. It can happen often at generic ATMs – in hotels and convenience stores…and sometimes at the gas pumps.
- Check your statements for any suspicious activity while you travel (only if you can get a secure connection). Scammers like to pick travelers as victims because they rely on the fact that the traveler will not catch the activity until they return home – after vacation. And, of course, when you get home you will want to check all of your accounts as well.