July 24, 2023

How to Prevent Identity Theft While on Vacation

Whether you’re planning an adventure to the far-flung corners of the world or a quick trip to a nearby hotspot, it’s important to remember that fraudsters don’t take a vacation.  

Here are a few tips to keep your documents safe, know what kind of scams to avoid, and mitigate the impact should criminals get ahold of your personal information. These will be helpful for a more enjoyable trip without the constant worry of identity theft.  

9 Tips to Keep Your Identity Safe on Vacation

Identity theft can occur in various ways, but usually it starts when private personal information (PPI) like your social security number, date of birth, birthplace, driver’s license, passport number, or medical identification number is unintentionally disclosed to someone with malicious intentions.  

Travel safer by following these tips: 

1. Don’t Advertise You’re Away 

It’s tempting to post about your exciting travel plans on social media and share the journey as it unfolds with friends and family while you’re away. Unfortunately, a criminal might see this as an open invitation to rifle through your mail or rob your house, giving them access to your valuables and documents with personal information. Even social media accounts set to private aren’t always as private as you may think. Err on the side of caution and post about the trip after you return. 

2. Pause Mail Delivery 

Mail theft, change-of-address fraud, and other crimes impacting the Unites States Postal Service (USPS) have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. While the USPS takes measures to protect its employees and customers, you should plan to do the same.  

Submit a USPS Hold Mail Request or ask a friend or trusted neighbor to pick up your mail while you’re away.  

3. Set Up Credit Monitoring Alerts 

The convenience of modern technology creates a perfect opportunity for fraudsters to exploit one point of vulnerability to gain access to multiple accounts. While safeguards like multi-factor authentication and password vaults can help block attempts, nothing is foolproof. Even large organizations tasked with shielding sensitive information aren’t immune to major hacks.  

Tourists are often targeted by scammers because they’re less likely to be keeping a constant eye on their accounts. Setting up credit monitoring is an easy way to get timely updates on any activity affecting your credit.  

IDSeal offers several credit and non-credit identity monitoring elements. These features include monitoring credit activity like your credit score, daily credit limit and utilization, and any major changes reported to the three credit bureaus.

Learn more about IDSeal’s Complete Identity and Device Protection  

4. Clean Out Your Wallet or Purse 

Only take the documents with the personal private information you need for your trip. You’ll likely need your driver’s license, credit cards, prescriptions, insurance cards, and passport if traveling internationally. Don’t bring your social security card, check books, or notepads with any account passwords, and consider limiting how many credit cards you bring or how much daily cash you carry once you reach your destination. 

5. Keep your documents secure  

Once you’ve determined the essential documents you’ll need, keep them safe.  

Contactless payment technology makes it possible for criminals to steal credit card information without ever touching your wallet. RFID, or radio frequency identification, scanners can ping RFID-enabled cards from up to 30 feet away. While these incidents are rare, wallets that block the technology provide another layer of protection from credit card fraud.  

Another option is to lock away items you won’t need for the day in your hotel safe and carry what you do need close to your body in a money belt.     

6. Know what kind of scams to look out for  

Although it’s not an honest living, those who make scamming a career follow a playbook like any professional. Because out-of-towners are less likely to know how and where scammers operate, tourists usually make the perfect mark.  

Here are a few well-known cons to avoid when traveling abroad:  

  • Toss the Baby. A mother holding her baby quickly thrusts the child in your arms. While you’re distracted another person picks your pockets. A variant of this scam involves a baby doll wrapped in blankets tossed at the target. The horrifying scene creates an opportunity to distract and pick pocket an unsuspecting do-gooder.  
  • The Dropped Wallet. Most people are quick to alert another when they drop something important like a wallet or credit card. But don’t leave any belongings behind to run after someone. The person who lost it may be part of a team trying to distract you to steal your stuff. Instead, take the wallet to a local police station after you’ve packed up.  
  • The Street Performer. Who doesn’t love a spectacle? Street performers are common in major cities around the world. Musicians, dancers, jugglers, acrobats, and magicians add to the electrifying bustle, inviting passersby to stop and watch. But the show might not always be free. Look out for pick pockets in the crowd.  
  • Helpful Locals Warning of Pickpockets. While meandering in the streets of a beautiful foreign city, you may come across some friendly locals or signs warning of pickpockets in the neighborhood. Their helpfulness is ruse to get you to check your pockets where your wallet is stored and mark you as a target.  

What many of these scams have in common is the element of distraction and exploitation of traits like guilt, trust, and helpfulness. A travel money belt worn under your clothes is one of the best ways to thwart a pickpocket’s success.  

7. Protect Your Phone 

Our phones are a vital part of our everyday lives with apps that make it easier to pay bills and send money. Be sure to protect these apps by adding Face ID or PIN logins on each one and by locking your screen whenever it’s not in your hands. Go to your phone settings to decrease the amount of time the screen locks should you forget to do it manually.  

Do you have other apps like Venmo or Cash App that link to your bank’s checking account? Visit your account profile settings and enable the same Face ID and PIN login feature on them. These apps don’t usually have it enabled automatically. Should someone get a hold of your phone before the screen locks or convince you to hand over your phone voluntarily, your bank account could be drained in seconds.  

You should also use multi-factor authentication on all accounts that offer it. 

Finally, consider scheduling your bill payments ahead of your trip and remove these apps from your phone while you’re traveling.  

8. Avoid Free Public Wi-Fi  

Free public Wi-Fi is a great convenience when you’re traveling, but it’s also the perfect opportunity for man-in-the-middle attacks. Cybercriminals join the same network, seize other users’ traffic and intercept your online data, like usernames, emails, passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account details.  

Devices are also more susceptible to portal spoofing, malicious links, and malware when using public Wi-Fi. Avoid banking activity on a public Wi-Fi, but if you need to get online, always use a virtual private network, VPN, on your device for safer web browsing.  

Protect your online data with the VPN feature from IDSeal Pro-Tec® along with fifteen other device protection features.  

9. Purchase Identity Theft Insurance  

Javelin reports that total identity fraud losses were $43 billion in 2022 alone. While that’s down from $52 million the year prior, identity theft is becoming less of a question of if and more of a question of when for average consumers. Despite all the precautions you take to prevent identity theft, it may not be enough.  

With investigations and legal fees, costs to restore your credit can quickly add up. Having Identity Theft Insurance eliminates out-of-pocket expenses related to all costs of the identity recovery process. 

IDSeal members are insured with up to 1 million dollars of identity theft protection with a $0 deductible for fees related to your identity restoration. You’ll also be connected to a Recovery Specialist to guide you through the process and reduce the time and stress it takes to complete the recovery process. 

IDSeal Offers the Most Complete Identity Theft Protection Solution 

IDSeal’s identity theft protection offers several ways to keep you and your family safe while traveling, like timely credit alerts, lost wallet protection, and identity theft insurance.  Paired with IDSeal Pro-Tec®, our device protection software featuring anti-virus, VPN, dark web scanner, sensitive document detection, ad blocker, and more, you’ll get the most complete identity theft protection solution on the market. 

Relax while you travel knowing you and your family are protected with IDSeal. Learn more about our services and products.   

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