06 Jul How To Prevent Identity Theft While Traveling
It can be every traveler’s worst nightmare: You go to make a purchase on a credit card and learn that the transaction was declined. You log into your account and find several suspicious purchases. While you are out of town, you depend on access to cash and credit to provide food and shelter on your trip. Identity theft can make it difficult to get through the day, and it might even leave you stranded in an unfamiliar place. With this guide, you can learn how to prevent identity theft while traveling.
Avoiding Travel-Related Identity Theft
Before You Travel
Preventing identity theft starts the moment you decide to travel. When you browse through your options, looking for good deals on airfare, hotels or holiday packages, avoid any offer that seems too good to be true. In the weeks leading up to the trip, put these tasks on your to-do list:
- Contact your banking institutions and credit cards to notify them of your travel plans.
- Update your contact information, so that automatic alerts of suspicious transactions go to the right place.
- Hold your mail or ask a trusted person to pick it up for you.
- Check your accounts before you go and report unfamiliar transactions in advance.
- Clean out your wallet or purse and leave only the things you need for the trip.
Although you should tell a few trusted people that you will be gone, you may want to avoid posting about your plans on social media.
During Your Trip
Once you begin your trip, there are several things you can do to minimize the chances that thieves could get hold of your sensitive information. In the airport, be wary of using public Wi-Fi, charging ports or computers. If you must use a printed boarding pass, keep it close to you at all times. Consider keeping a photocopy of your passport and driver’s license in a secure place in case your wallet gets stolen.
During your trip, assume that every transaction could be a scam. Look for ATMs in well-traveled, public places, and avoid using them at night. If the front desk of your hotel calls to confirm your credit card number, hang up and ask the front desk directly. When you make a purchase at a store or restaurant, confirm that you receive your card back after the transaction. If you need to log into any accounts during your trip, use your phone’s data.
After You’re Home
After you arrive home safely, you still have a few things to do to protect your identity. Check the balances of your bank account and credit cards the day after you get home and report any transactions that do not make sense. Keep an eye on your accounts over the following week or two, as a thief might not use your information immediately. If you had to log into accounts while you were gone, change the passwords.
Get a copy of your credit report within a couple of months of your trip, to confirm that you have no new accounts that you did not open. Consider paying close attention to your credit in general. This practice can help you identify problems early, giving you time to address them before they get worse.
What if Your Identity Was Stolen While Traveling?
If you suspect that your identity was stolen on your trip, you should research in advance so you can take quick action. Follow these steps:
- Contact your local embassy to help you with a stolen passport.
- Report missing or stolen credit cards to the card issuer.
- Change passwords to affected accounts and update your security questions.
- Consult an attorney to help you navigate the process of reclaiming your identity.
Moving quickly to protect your identity can minimize the damage.
Stein Saks, PLLC Can Help You Minimize Identity Theft Problems
At Stein Saks, PLLC, we have years of experience helping clients to reduce the effects of identity theft. Our team specializes in several areas of practice related to consumer protection. Contact us to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.