With identity theft being a very common crime, the risks are even greater when traveling. Over 16 million adults were victims to identity theft in 2017 and that number is growing. The great news is that there are simple best practices you can implement when you travel to reduce the risk of your safety and identity being compromised.
Check out our top 10 tips below to help prevent identity theft from happening while you travel:
1 – Stop mail delivery to your home. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, consider pausing your mail delivery. An overflowing mailbox not only alerts criminals that you’re not home, but can also leave a variety of documents with sensitive personal information available for potential identity theft. At the very least, make sure you have a secure mailbox that can’t be accessed by people passing by.
2 – Clean out your wallet. To minimize the risk of lost credit cards you typically carry with you, review what’s in your wallet before you travel. One primary credit card and a backup may be enough, along with your driver’s license and medical insurance card – leave behind everything else you won’t need on your trip.
3 – Don’t disclose travel plans on social media. No one wants to have their home bulgared while they’re away. Posts on social media can result in your information going beyond just your friends and family. Best practices are to share your travel plans with loved ones directly and not announce it on social media where it could end up in the wrong hands. Save posting those great photos of you on vacation until you’ve returned home.
4 – Take advantage of the hotel safe. As you travel around your destination, you should store your passport, tickets, extra cash, backup credit card and other valuables in the hotel safe. That way, if you’re a victim to pickpocketing, you won’t be left empty-handed.
5 – Use best practices with debit and credit cards. Use ATMs at local banks as machines at restaurants and other locations may be more easily tampered with by fraudsters. Avoid making online purchases on public computers or public, unsecure Wi-Fi. Try not to let your credit cards out of sight at restaurants and other locations, as it’s easy for a worker to quickly take a picture or jot down your credit card information.
6 – Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi. It’s not unusual for tech-savvy criminals to try to eavesdrop on public Wi-Fi networks. Even password-protected Wi-Fi networks are only as safe as the people who have the passwords, which are often easily available. Avoid transactions while on public Wi-Fi, or use a virtual private network (VPN) or tether to your phone using your own cellular network data.
7 – Password-protect your phone and add tracking tools. Your phone stores sensitive information, such as access to your email and possibly credit card information (if using Google Pay Send, Apple Wallet or other bank apps). Password-protecting smartphones can keep your information safe if it falls into the wrong hands. In addition, enable location tracking to help find your phone if it is lost.
8 – Use a RFID-blocking wallet. Radio frequency identification technology (RFID) lets you wave your credit card in front of a reader to transfer your credit card information. But if a hacker has a RFID reader, they can easily steal your credit card information when within close proximity of your wallet. Or, keep your BRELLA membership card in your wallet as it doubles as a RFID blocker.
9 – Use best practices for your luggage. Adding ribbons or unique luggage tags to your suitcases will help you quickly identify your suitcases at the baggage carousel. Also, your luggage tag should include minimal information: your last name and your cell phone number will suffice. This will ensure you’re contacted if luggage goes missing, but if it is stolen or taken by mistake, no one will have your address, email or other personally identifiable information. TSA-approved luggage locks will also keep your valuables secure and may deter theft.
10 – Keep a record of important documents and what you’re traveling with. If your wallet or any important documents do get stolen while you’re traveling, it’s important to know exactly what’s missing. Before you depart, write down all the information from your credit and debit cards, driver’s license, medical insurance and other important documents, including phone numbers to call to report loss.
Protect yourself even further by enrolling in a BRELLA membership. We offer travel emergency assistance and many other identity theft and prevention services to bring you peace of mind while you travel. With a dynamically managed global network and a full, in-house medical team, BRELLA’s travel emergency team is here to help when trouble arises.