Warm weather, sunny beaches, and theme parks – these are the hallmarks of summer vacation. Unfortunately, so is identity theft.
Vacationers often unknowingly leave their personal information exposed to thieves while traveling, which can turn a worry-free break into a prolonged and stressful fight to reclaim a stolen identity. Here are nine simple ways to protect against identity theft this summer:
- Be careful about using public Wi-Fi. While free Wi-Fi is great, avoid checking your bank account on Wi-Fi in hotels, coffee shops and restaurants. Many public Wi-Fi connections are not secure, making it easier for thieves to capture personal information.
- Consider using a privacy screen on your laptop while traveling on a plane or bus. With limited personal space on public transit, it can be easy for your seatmate to view your information.
- Safeguard your wallet. Some summer destinations are notorious for pickpockets that target tourists. If your wallet is lost or stolen while traveling, immediately place a fraud alert on your credit and notify card issuers.
- Keep copies of your credit cards and passport in a safe place (such as a personal safe or locked suitcase) in case your information is compromised. Having your credit card numbers handy helps banks or card issuers protect your information even faster.
- Shred travel documents containing sensitive information after they’re used. Or, keep boarding passes or other tickets on your phone and immediately delete them after the trip.
- Schedule bill payments ahead of time. Avoid making bill payments while on vacation, as it adds another opportunity for thieves to steal your identity. It can also help you avoid late payments that can hurt your credit in the long run.
- Consider freezing your funds if you believe you may be in a vulnerable position. Contact your banks and credit card companies if you think your information has been compromised.
- Stop your mail while on vacation. Leaving credit card offers stacked up in your mailbox makes them easy to steal.
- Don’t be so quick to share vacation plans on social media. It’s easy for thieves to monitor social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and see when you’ll be away.
Taking reasonable precautions while on vacation won’t just keep your identity safer this summer, it’ll also give you peace of mind so you can focus on enjoying time with family and friends.