There are enough things to worry about when you are traveling – booking your flight and hotel, making it to the airport in time, not missing connecting flights, getting to point A to point B for all the excursions you planned, and of course the dreaded packing. The last thing you need to worry about is protecting your identity or worrying about someone stealing your money and being stuck somewhere with no funds!Trust me I know! Last year as we traveled to Florida with my parents on the very long drive, we stopped at a small gas station and my son begged for a bug juice. Since I am not a cash carrying person, I used my bank debit card and gave no thought to it; I use it almost on a daily basis.
A few days later I logged into my online banking account to make sure your paycheck had been deposited like usual, and I noticed an odd charge. I called my bank who confirmed someone had purchased some items online and that they had to cancel my card. I was 1,200 miles from home and no access to my money! Thankfully I had a credit card I was able to use until my replacement card came in the mail a few weeks later – but what if I didn’t have any other means of money? What if I had been out of the country, or had only planned to use that card?
I decided to do some research to protect myself for future travels, knowing I never wanted to be left in that predicament again. Here are some great tips for safety and peace of mind while traveling:
1. “Unpack” Critical Documents Before Travel
If you carry some essential documents with you when you are not traveling — the average wallet or purse might include a Social Security card, bank statements, medical documents, checkbook and the like — remove them before you leave home. Essentially, when it comes to documentation, you want to “unpack” before traveling.
2. Guard Your Documents
This is one of the tips you will encounter in most travel safety articles, so I won’t go into it at length here — but suffice to say that if you leave any sensitive documents lying around in your hotel room while you are out, you are a lot more likely to experience identity theft than if you have them in a money belt, document protector, etc.
3.Beware of public computers
The days of the Internet cafe are waning, as Wi-Fi-enabled tablets and ultra-light laptops have become the norm for many tourists. But if you’re not packing a lot of technology on your travels, or your computer dies on the road, or you just need to print a boarding pass in the hotel lobby, remember that public computers are hotbeds for identity theft. Never autosave information on forms, especially if you’re typing in your passport or credit card number. Select “no” if you are asked to save any passwords. Delete your search history afterward. If possible, use the Google Chrome browser and open your windows in “incognito mode” (Ctrl + Shift + N, or click on the menu bar in the upper right-hand corner). Your search history, passwords, and cookies will automatically not be saved. Finally, avoid checking bank-account balances on public computers, if you can. Use your bank’s smartphone app (most major banks have one), or simply limit your balance check-ins to secure ATMs.|
Delete All Cookies and Browsing History on Public Terminals
If you find you must use a public computer, the last thing you should do is delete all cookies and browsing history before you log off. Many computers can cache quite a bit of significant information, and some Web sites are even set up to keep you logged in when you close the browser unless you specifically log off (such as Facebook and LinkedIn). Many public terminals will delete this type of data automatically, but doing it yourself offers much better peace of mind.
4. Lock your smartphone
Most of us store an alarming amount of data on our smartphones: emails and text messages with personal information; photos of our family, homes, and cars; and important travel information, such as boarding passes or itineraries. While it’s nice to have a digital backup of everything important, leaving this information unprotected is like rolling out a welcome mat for hackers and identity thieves. Be smart and protect your phone with a home-screen-locking password. Depending on your phone model, this may be a numerical code, a unique swiping pattern, or a fingerprint scan. Avoid obvious numerical codes such as “1111” or your birth year, and remember to change your PIN frequently; it’s not that difficult for someone looking over your shoulder to guess what you’re typing.
5. Use cash whenever possible
In terms of secure payment, cash is still king. If stolen, it can’t be replaced (unlike a credit card), but it won’t put you at risk of identity theft. When traveling, always keep a combination of cash and cards on hand. Use credit cards at airports, major chains, and shops that clearly use secure payment systems. Use cash whenever there is the slightest doubt about the security of a seller’s methods (for instance, if they want to take the card to a mysterious “back room” for payment). Avoid using your debit card whenever possible; while U.S. law requires protection against unauthorized debit card purchases, those protections may not be as instantaneous or as broad as those offered by your credit card company. You may also be hit with immediate overdraft fees that could drain your savings account before you even know you are a victim.
6. Stop your mail
Thieves don’t steal mail because they like to browse your Victoria’s Secret catalogs. They do it because of all the juicy personal information it contains: bank-account and Social Security numbers, even health information. Before you depart, place a hold on your postal delivery or, better yet, ask a close neighbor to collect the piles of bills, cards, and letters each day. Shred all personal mail, even credit card offers in which you’re not interested. Go paperless with as many accounts as you can; not only does it cut down on waste, it makes your personal data more secure. And if you’ll be away for an exceptionally long period—say, several months or more—consider renting a P.O. box at your local post office and placing a forward on your mail.
7. Follow Up After Your Trip
When you get home, check bank activity, credit card activity and even medical insurance claim activity to see if there is anything you do not recognize. These are often the first places you’ll see indications of identity theft. Some thieves will purposely use your information in situations where the paper and digital trail will only appear slowly — establishments that submit charges and claims manually (or at least not in real time) — so it is a good idea to check again after a couple of weeks to make sure nothing has shown up in the meantime.
8. Sign up for LifeLock Services
LifeLock Standard™ identity theft protection helps keep your personal information safe with the patented LifeLock Identity Alert® system and a whole lot more.
Stolen identity information is used to apply for credit cards, wireless services, retail credit, utilities, mortgages or auto and payday loans. LifeLock actively monitors applications within an extensive network for attempts to use your personal information. Whenever suspicious activity is detected, you will receive an alert via email or phone.
A lost or stolen wallet can leave you stranded. If your wallet goes missing, just call—anytime, anywhere—and LifeLock will help cancel or replace the contents, helping you stop fraudulent charges so you can get back on your way. Coverage includes: credit and debit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards, checkbooks and travelers checks (pictures, cash and cash equivalents excluded).
Identity thieves can redirect your mail, containing financial information, by impersonating you and providing a fraudulent new address. LifeLock monitors these requests and notifies you any time a change of address is requested in your name.
Identity thieves illegally buy, sell and trade personal information on black market Internet sites around the world. LifeLock patrols over 10,000 criminal websites and notifies you if your private data is found.
LifeLock requests that your name be removed from many pre-approved credit card mailing lists, an important information source for identity thieves.
As a LifeLock member, if you become a victim of identity theft, LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to hire experts to help your recovery.
For additional protection, sign up fr LifeLock Ultimate.
All in a Days Work readers can save 10% on LifeLock services by using promo code “LifeLockSafety”
**Find more great tips for safety and peace of mind while traveling check out LifeLocks post 10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft While Traveling.
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