Traveling for the Holidays? Beware of Identity Theft
It’s that time of year again; the time when many people start planning to visit the family or enjoy a well-deserved rest. But criminals never rest and they could be planning to steal your identity.
While you make travel arrangements and prepare for holiday shopping, your daily life generally becomes busier – and this could lead to carelessness. Identity thieves are well aware of this yearly overload and use it as an opportunity to rob you of your personal information — information such as bank account and social security numbers, credit card statements and other personal financial documents.
- Never leave check books, credit card statements or other personal financial information in the open. Be sure to lock these things up in a safe or other place in the house or secure them in a safe deposit box.
- Lock all file cabinets that contain valuable information.
- Shred documents that you don’t need, such as credit card applications, which have your name and address on them.
- Request a mail hold from the post office and a vacation hold for newspaper delivery.
- If traveling out of country make copies of your passport, credit cards and travel itinerary. Keep one and leave another with a friend or relative.
- Keep your credit cards, cash, traveler’s checks or other financial items with you – don’t pack them in a suit case or carry on. Another tip: bring the bare minimum. You don’t need your check book and five credit cards. Lock the check book up in your home and bring only one or two credit cards.
- Use a credit card instead of an ATM card. If fraud does occur, it’s simpler to report and have the charges expunged. And a thief can drain your account with an ATM card.
- Check your credit card and bank accounts as frequently as possible. By monitoring them you will be able to verify if fraud has occurred.
- If shopping, don’t bother to bring a purse. Keep a credit card and your license in a front pocket. Do the same with a wallet – thieves can easily steal it from a coat pocket or back pocket. If either is stolen report it immediately.
- Store all valuables in a hotel safe don’t leave them out in the open.
- Keep all of your receipts.
- Review all of your accounts to make certain that no unauthorized purchases or withdrawals took place.
- Match your receipts with your purchases to see if everything is in order.
- Retrieve your mail and carefully evaluate which bills need to be paid so you don’t miss payments or incur late charges.
- If you have money left over, use it to pay off your credit card expenses from the trip.
- Collect the photocopies of your passport, credit cards and itinerary, and lock them up for the future.
With some careful planning your holiday travel can be more enjoyable, especially when you know that your identity and your financial information is safe.