You got a great deal on airline tickets, found the perfect hotel and made a list of all the great places you're going visit and things you're going to do. Now it's time to take steps to protect yourself from identity theft and other forms of fraud that can happen when you travel. Don't let an unpleasant event spoil your vacation-take these simple steps to reduce your risk.
Before You Leave
- Remove non-essential items from your wallet. Take only the ID, credit and debit cards you need. Never travel with your Social Security card.
- Secure your devices with passwords. Make sure you have strong passcode locks on your smartphone, tablet or laptop and use data encryption.
- Contact Spokane Federal Credit Union and credit card issuers and inform them of your travel plans so you don't start setting off alarms when charges from unusual locations start showing up on your cards.
- Have the U.S. Postal Service temporarily stop mail if you're on a trip longer than three days and don't have a secure mailbox.
- Make copies of important documents and credit cards you'll be taking with you and leave the copies with a trusted friend or relative. You can also distribute these copies among the different luggage you're taking just in case you lose one (you'll have backups).
- Set up a smartphone locator app so if your smartphone is lost or stolen, you can find it and block it from use.
- Use RFID card protectors (get yours at Spokane Federal for free) to keep your credit cards from being fraudulently scanned.
While You're Away
- Use ATMs at financial institutions instead of freestanding ones in high-traffic tourist areas, which are ripe for skimming-a method of collecting your information and PIN from your card. Cover the keypad with your hand while entering your PIN.
- Lock up valuables, including sensitive documents, in the hotel safe when you're out of the room.
- Use a travel wallet, which can be worn under your clothes, for additional safety.
Turn off the geo-tagging feature on social media and avoid posting pictures until you get home. If you do post from vacation, don't include details of where you are or how long you're staying.
Use your mobile banking app to monitor your account for suspicious activity.
Clear browser histories and caches when you use public computers and don't transmit sensitive information or conduct banking over unsecured (public) Wi-Fi.
When You Return
- Review account and credit card statements for irregularities.
- Take advantage of your free credit reports so you can monitor for a full year.
In Case of Fraud
- Call Spokane Federal immediately (509.328.2900) to put a hold on your account. Call other credit issuers that may be affected by the theft.
- File a police report if you're the victim of a crime.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports, which will alert creditors to use extra caution when verifying account applicants.
These steps will help you if problems arise later, including unauthorized charges and tax fraud. Remember, it's easier to enjoy your time away when you've taken precautions to protect yourself and your personal financial information. Bon voyage!