So the bags are packed and the doors are locked as you head out for the big trip, but aren’t you forgetting something? Identity theft predators thrive off of holiday travelers. Here are six basic tips to ensure you don’t fall victim to identity theft while on the road this winter.
- Keep your home safe. As tempting as it may be to rub a vacation in the neighbors’ faces, avoid announcing your vacation on social media. Your home could be targeted for burglary, leaving your identity vulnerable. Hide laptops and important documents within the home, just in case of a break-in.
- Use secured Wi-Fi. Avoid logging on to your bank account or other sites with sensitive information while using unsecured public Wi-Fi in hotels, cafes, airports and other locations.
- Use ATMs only at financial service centers. Other ATMs are more vulnerable to tampering. Be wary of restaurants where waiters could have portable skimmers.
- Bring the right card. Use a card with enhanced security, such as Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union’s advanced security ATM/debit cards. You’ll receive text alerts of any unusual or suspicious purchases so you can verify them. Just make sure to alert your financial institution before traveling internationally, so that using your card in unusual places doesn’t trigger a freeze on your account. It’s also a good idea to leave unnecessary cards at home, such as other debit cards and library cards.
- Dispose of documents properly. Rip up any papers with personal information that you’re no longer using. This means tearing up used boarding passes with full names or other personal information on them.
- Lock it down. Make sure your smartphone has a lock on it and is password protected. It’s a good idea to install a GPS-locator app that helps you find the phone in case it’s lost or stolen.
Cait Klein, NerdWallet
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