When people head out on a much-needed vacation trip, there is often a tendency to relax so much that they let their guard down, which makes them vulnerable to having their identity stolen. Below are some practical steps you can take to avoid being victimized by an identity thief:
- Inform your credit card company of your travel plans. Call credit card companies and your bank and tell them not only how long you will be away but what your destinations are. This will allow them to set up their fraud alert system, which notifies you if fraud is suspected.
- Be choosy when using an ATM machine. Opt for ATMs that are situated behind the doors of a bank, if possible. If the situation arises that your card gets stuck after you have entered your password, stop right away, and call to have the card canceled immediately.
- Take only one credit card with you. If you only carry one credit card, you’ll be better able to keep track of it, which minimizes the chance of it being lost, or worse, falling into the hands of a thief.
- Carry travelers checks. While it may seem as though internationally accepted credit cards have put them in the same category as the dinosaurs, travelers checks are still very useful for international travelers. Their biggest drawback is that if you want to exchange them for cash, you must go in person to a local bank when you arrive at your destination. However, they have two major advantages over credit/debit cards: if they are lost, the issuer will replace them free of charge; and if the local ATM is refusing to validate your PIN number, you still have cash on hand. Travelers checks issued in U. S. dollar amounts are widely accepted abroad.
- Use an encryption program on your laptop. If you must carry a laptop with you, be sure it is encrypted to prevent prying eyes from accessing personal data. It should be locked up in the room/hotel safe when you aren’t in your room. The same goes for your cell phone and your PDA.
- Carry your wallet and your passport with you. Men should always place their wallet and passport in their front pocket. Putting them in a back pocket makes your wallet and passport accessible to pickpockets. For women carrying a purse, place your wallet and passport in one of the inside pockets of your purse, and place the strap of the purse diagonally across your chest. Keep a hand on your bag at all times. It’s a good idea to make photocopies of your passports and other ID documentation and leave them in the room/hotel safe.
Stay alert when travelling. Take precautions, and don’t give identity thieves an opportunity to turn your vacation into a nightmare.