Your trip is fully planned; down to each street you’re going to stroll, and every restaurant you’re going venture. You’re starting to get excited as the travel date creeps closer. Unfortunately, the anticipation is also kicking in, and you’re inevitably starting to imagine everything that could go wrong. Unfortunately in this day and age, identity theft is one of the first things that may come to mind. With credit cards, passports, driver’s licenses, and everything else that illustrates our personal information, you have to be very careful with who gets their hands on what. Furthermore, as a tourist you are much more vulnerable to such acts. Luckily, with a couple tips and some common sense, there are many ways to protect you from being a victim. Follow through with these steps before your travels, and while you’re abroad, and you will be much less apt to finding yourself with a case of identity theft.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
Call your Bank
~ Before you head out of the country, give your bank and credit card carriers a heads up. Giving them the exact dates and areas that you will be traveling will let them keep an eye on any transactions that are not part of your plan. Furthermore, this will prevent from YOU being flagged when you hit your destination, and your cards getting declined!
Put your Mail on Hold
~ Nothing says no one’s home like a huge pile of mail. Call your post office and have them hold your mail, or make sure a friend empties out that mailbox. Your mail can have everything from account numbers to your SS. Not only avoid identity theft, but also being targeted for home burglary by just having the post office skip your house.
Thin out that Wallet, and Leave the Checkbook at Home
~ Chances are you won’t be writing any checks out of the country. Make it one less worry and leave it at home. Furthermore, any unnecessary items that are puffing up that wallet should probably stay in your nightstand. SS card, old receipts, and even that library card can probably stay at home. Why carry it if you don’t have to?
Make Photocopies of your Travel Documents
~ Hopefully you wont’ need them, but on the off chance that you find yourself without once of your travel documents, having a copy will make you’re life a thousand times easier. Make a copy of your Passport, ID, etc. and just stuff them in the bottom of your bag. You’ll be grateful if you end up needing them!
RESIST FACEBOOK! Don’t post your Travel Plans
~ It’s always fun putting one last status update before you leave, making everyone jealous that you’re leaving for Thailand. Unfortunately, it’s not only your trusted friends that will know you’re out of town, and the house is vacant. You don’t know who your friend’s, friend’s, friends are, so wait to post about it when you get back!
WHILE YOU’RE TRAVELING
Don’t just chuck that Boarding Pass
~ Once you’re on the plane, it may not seem like you need to keep that boarding pass around for anything. Resist the urge to throw it away, and just stuff it back in your pack. Your boarding pass has a lot of your personal information on it, and if in the wrong hands, someone could easily find out where you live, and will know you’re out of town.
Don’t overdo the Luggage Tags
~ Realistically, you really just need your name and phone number on that luggage tag. If someone gets a hold of your luggage, and the address is right there on the tag, they’ll know where you live and that you’re out of town. Keep it simple!
Be weary of ATMS
~ A new fraudulent fad is fake ATMs, or monitoring ATMs for a customer’s card information. If you’re taking out cash, try to do so in a secure location, and at an ATM that you know is widely used and acknowledged. Furthermore, take a look around before you punch in that pin. Make sure there are no cameras or lurkers trying to get a peak at that information. The best would be to find an ATM inside.
Take Advantage of Hotel Safes
~ Hotel safes are put there for a reason. When you’re out and about touring the city, don’t worry about your passport, and all those vulnerable documents. Just stick them in that safe, locked in your hotel room, and it will be very unlikely that someone will get to them.
Don’t treat the hotel computer like your one at home
~ Take care of your online bills before you head abroad. Hotel computers are great if you need to research that next monument you’re checking out, but try to avoid entering any personal information. You don’t know what sorts of history settings there are installed, so make sure you don’t even need to think about it.
When paying, don’t let your card out of your line of sight
~ When you’re using a credit card to pay, make sure you watch the merchant follow through with the transaction. If they head to another room, they could easily take a picture of the card, swipe the card twice, or just write down your info.
If the hotel calls to verify payment, don’t give your credit card over the phone
~ If for some reason the hotel, train, or any other reservation you may have calls to have you complete a payment, don’t do it over the phone. Just head down to the counter, or tell them you’ll pay once you arrive. You never know who’s on the other side of the phone conversation.
Even though you can take every precaution, identity theft can still happen on your travels (or even while you’re home). As soon as you see any irregularity in your accounts, act on it as soon as possible. The more quickly you nip the issue in the bud, the more quickly you should see everything head back to normal. So just follow these trips, and head to that dream destination!