According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2015. You've taken several steps to keep your personal information safe, including constantly changing your online passwords and checking your credit report for fraudulent activity. However, there is another instance when you are particularly vulnerable to identity theft, and it is often at a time when your guard is down: while you're on vacation. Don't allow your vacation to be ruined by unscrupulous thieves, and, instead, here are a few simple ways to keep your identity safe while you're on vacation:
Avoid Accessing Your Private Online Accounts
Whether it's your online bank account, online credit card accounts or any other account that features your privileged information, it is vital to avoid logging on to any of these while on vacation. This is especially true if you are using a hotel or restaurant's free wireless internet. These networks are notoriously unsecure, which leaves your personal information vulnerable to anyone else who is also utilizing the wireless internet services.
If you must access your bank account or credit card accounts, utilize your cellular service. Although it is not as secure as your home's password-protected Wi-Fi, it is still safer than a public wireless network.
Another great option is to setup a VPN, or virtual private network, on your laptop, tablet and cellular phone. A VPN is basically another layer of security that allows you to safely utilize a public wireless network. It is very simple to setup a VPN, and it can be done in a matter of minutes by accessing this feature through your operating system.
If you're unaware of how to setup a VPN, go ahead and hire a professional cyber security professional to perform this task for you.
Only Bring Essential Financial Files and Paperwork
Depending on where you're headed, you may need to bring along several pieces of personal information, including your passport or additional documents to act as proof of identity. Beyond these necessary pieces of information, it is vital that you keep anything else that contains your privileged information at home.
Additionally, it is also important to clean out your purse and wallet and only bring any credit cards or debit cards you are planning to use on the trip. Do not bring along cards that you simply won't need because it places them at risk for being stolen.
Taking photocopies of your personal files, documents and credit cards will make it much easier to prove your identity if you are a victim of identity theft while you are on vacation. Keep these photo copies in the room or hotel's safe to prevent them from also being snatched.
Alert Your Credit Card Company About Your Vacation Plans
Prior to leaving on your vacation, give your credit card company and bank a call and let them know you will have some activity in a different and specific location. Not only will this help the bank alert you to any suspicious activity in another location, it is also prevents them from potentially putting a freeze on your account because you are using it in spot that isn't your hometown. A bank or credit card company will often freeze your account if they suspect your identity has been stolen.
Use ATMs Wisely
Finally, if you find yourself in need of cash, only use ATMs that are in a public area or a secure bank lobby. It is best to use a bank ATM because, typically, a thief is less likely to attempt to steal your information since these machines are much more difficult to access. If you must use an ATM at a gas station or any other, less secure area, make sure that no one is behind you and that you do not leave your receipt behind.
From having a professional set up a VPN on your phone or laptop to making sure to leave your lesser-used credit cards at home, there are several simple ways you can protect your identity while on vacation. For more tips and information, contact a company specializing in identity protection, such as Silent Security 1.