Safe Summer Travel: Tips to Protect Your Identity
Two years of pent-up pandemic frustration has many people itching to leave their homes. Despite the rise in gas prices, according to Bankrate, more than 6 in 10 U.S. adults (61%) say they are likely to take at least one vacation this summer. While many of us are looking forward to hitting the open road, safety should be top of mind. Gearing up for a long-awaited family vacation includes packing, planning an itinerary, and booking a place to stay. Travelers should add one more item to that list: keeping yourself from getting ripped off.
Bank fraud and identity theft can happen on a large, global scale, but it can also happen to individuals, especially when traveling across states or internationally. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the most common types of fraud include credit card, bank, and loan fraud. Fraud prevention and awareness will help keep your identity and your money safe.
The good news: Simple strategies can help safeguard your information and identity when traveling.
- Check in with your bank. Bank officials may deny charges that look suspicious to protect you, especially if they see foreign transactions they don't know about ahead of time. Be sure to let your bank know when and where you'll be travelling, so they are aware of where you are going and that you may be spending more than you do in a typical week.
- Take charge of your phone. Staying connected, even on vacation, is a must for most people. Make sure your phone is secure. The 2022 McAfee Consumer Mindset Report found only 56% of respondents have a password or passcode in place to protect their phone. Don't enter your password or sensitive information into your phone when you are in a place where someone else can see it. While the public charging ports at airports are convenient, resist the urge to use them. A newer form of identity theft called "juice jacking" allows thieves to transfer your information via a USB charging port. Instead, consider the following:
- Bring a portable charging device.
- Use a regular AC plug outlet with your own plug and charging cord.
- Bring your own car charger.
- Stay present. Often during travel, things like reading signage, looking at a map, or finding a restroom steal your attention. In these cases, it's easy for someone to "accidentally" bump into us and swipe whatever's in reach. Keep valuables safe and secure within inside pockets, front-carried pouches or bags with straps that can be worn across the body.
- Opt for hidden mode. Bluetooth allows information transfer, so it's the perfect gateway for an identity thief. While you are in public places, such as an airport or train station, make sure your Bluetooth is not set to discoverable. This means potential thieves are unable to "pair" with your device and steal your information.
Above all, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t look right, then take your time to ensure that it is safe before proceeding with any transactions. Monitor your bank statements and check your balance daily through your mobile app. If you have a data plan, it’s better to use your mobile cellular network than Wi-Fi because it’s harder to hack. Always know how much money you have so missing funds are easy to spot. Catching identity theft quickly is the key to fraud detection and minimizing any damage to your finances and credit.
These tips are important year-round, and particularly as we venture out this summer. Safe – and secure – travels!
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