Vacation is a time for relaxation and fun. It’s easy to let down your guard while having the time of your life as well as in the anticipation leading up to your big trip. If you want to protect your identity while traveling, you’ll need to do some work before you leave. You will also need to keep your wits about you once your trip begins. Tourists are easy targets for identity thieves because they know you’ll be carrying personal information and probably more cash than the average local. Use the tips below to keep yourself safe.
Protect Your Identity While Traveling
Leave unnecessary items at home. You may carry all the personal items you may need on a day-to-day basis, just out of convenience. Whether that is your Social Security card (you should always leave this at home!), extra credit cards or medical information, you may not need to carry all of it with you on a trip. Pare down what you carry in your wallet or purse to only the items essential for travel.
Safeguard your cell phone. Your phone holds an unbelievable amount of your personal information. Your address, your credit card information – your phone probably holds most of your most information. Ensure that your cell phone has a strong passcode and that your apps use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Use an RFID-blocking wallet. Most credit cards now have a tap feature as a means of transferring the credit card information. This is much safer than inserting the chip or swiping as it avoids skimmers that easily can steal your information. However, scammers may have access to an RFID reader which can quickly grab your credit card information. Using a wallet with RFID-blocking technology will keep that from happening.
Make sure you’re using public WiFi safely. Public WiFi is incredibly convenient and allows you to avoid using your data. However, it is important to remember that public WiFi is a shared network. This means that any information you send briefly travels through a public space. A competent identity thief may have the capability of accessing that information while it travels through the network. When using public WiFi you should only access websites or send data that doesn’t contain personal information.
Make use of free credit reports to monitor your credit before and after the trip. Americans are given access to three, free credit reports each year. These are more in-depth than just accessing your FICO credit score. Each of the three, major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) allow you to access your credit report for free one time per year. Just before you leave for vacation you should access a credit report from one of the bureaus. Approximately a month after your vacation, access your credit report from another bureau. You should make note of any new credit inquiries or entries. If there are any entries that you don’t recognize, you can immediately take action.
Your vacation is going to be an amazing adventure with memories that will last a lifetime. Protect your identity while traveling so that those memories made are only good ones.