Travel, whether for the holidays or summer vacation, is supposed to be as fun and relaxing as possible. To make sure that you keep that glow when you return home, here are ten tips and a video to keep you from becoming a victim of traveler’s identity theft.
- Before leaving home, share your itinerary with your financial institutions. It will make it easier for you to use your cards in far-flung locations without causing a freeze, and will alert your banks of possible identity theft if transactions come in from locations other than yours.
- Don’t share your vacation on social media until you return home. Not only are you asking for your home to be burglarized while you’re away, identity thieves monitor social networking sites for this information. It’s a perfect opportunity for them to take over your email accounts and send messages to your contacts, pretending to be you and asking for money to be wired to help you overcome some vacation disaster.
- Consider having a separate account just for travel. This way if you do lose the card, identity thieves will have access to less of your personal information, and less money.
- When packing, clean out your purse or wallet. Don’t take any cards or other information that you won’t need while on the road. Do the same with your phone and other devices. Back them up, and sanitize them as much as possible of your personal information. Consider leaving your laptop at home.
- Use only bank ATMs in safe places, not the smaller, independent ones.
- Set up text alerts for your phone, letting you know whenever a transaction is made.
- Keep your phone password protected, with a low number of attempts. Install apps to help you lock it, find it, take a photo of the thief, back it up, and if necessary to wipe it clean of your personal information.
- Beware of a new hotel scam in which an identity thief calls the hotel and asks to be put through to a room. The thief then pretends to be from the front desk, needing credit card information because of a problem with the original card. This is usually done late at night. The thief requests that the guest come to the front desk immediately, but offers as a convenience to take the card information over the phone.
- A similar scam involves thieves slipping takeout menus under the hotel room door, tempting a guest to order. There is no restaurant, but the guest doesn’t know that until the thieves have the credit card information. Check with the hotel before ordering.
- Be very careful of using Wi-Fi networks. Many are not secure. Also, some scammers will set up a free Wi-Fi network with a name very similar to that of the hotel or other establishment. If you accidentally log on to the wrong one, they can access all your personal information on the devices, such as banking, contacts, email and more.
- Watch this video for more hotel tips.
Vicki Siedow is a California licensed Private Investigator (#22852) a Certified Identity Theft Specialist and a Legal Shield Independent Associate. She can be reached at Vicki@VickiPI.com