Identity fraud is on the rise, and it can happen to anyone at any time. Having said that, there are certainly times at which we are more vulnerable, and travel definitely presents many such situations.
For many retirees, travel provides one of their primary forms of leisure. So, we don’t want to discourage you from doing what you love! Just follow these tips to keep your personal information, and your credit report, safe from would-be thieves.
Pack light. There is probably no need to take multiple credit cards on a vacation. The fewer you bring with you, the fewer you must report stolen if anything bad happens… So take only the card(s) you really need, and leave the rest locked up at home.
Use credit, rather than debit. If debit card numbers are stolen, your bank account can be drained in a matter of hours, and it’s often difficult to recover those funds. Credit card companies offer superior fraud protections, so use credit when traveling.
Use ATMs carefully. Only use ATMs in well-lit, populated areas, and follow your instincts. If someone seems to be watching you or following you, now is not the time to stop at an ATM.
Lower your daily cash withdrawal limit. Contact your card company and place a limit on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from your account. If your card is stolen, thieves will at least be limited in the amount of damage they can do.
Write down your credit card company’s name and phone number. Keep this information in a secure place, separate from your wallet. If you need to report the card stolen, having this information on hand will save time.
Don’t update social media. As you’re posting photos and updates from your vacation, you’re also telling potential burglars that you’re not at home! Save the updates for after you return.
Don’t use hotel or restaurant WiFi. As convenient as this service might be, often these internet connections are not secure. Don’t use hotspots to shop online, sign into your bank account, or otherwise send sensitive information.
Sign up for text alerts. Your card company can send a text to your phone, each time your credit card is used. If something has gone awry, you’ll at least know it right away.
Check your card activity once per day. Log into your account (using your phone’s data connection, not public WiFi) and check your card activity daily. If you see unfamiliar charges, report them right away.
Be careful with all of your information. Even though we’ve focused on credit and debit cards in this blog, any sensitive information can be used to commit identity theft. This includes your Social Security number, which might be displayed on your insurance card, and even your driver’s license number. Keep all of these cards secure when you travel. Preferably, wear them in a wallet on your body, since luggage can be lost or stolen.
In most cases, travel is incredibly safe these days. Just don’t get so distracted that you forget to take basic safety precautions, especially with regard to personal financial information. Stay safe, and enjoy your trip!