Protecting Your Family from Identity Theft While Traveling
Traveling is a great way to explore new places, create memories, and bond with your family. However, while you’re enjoying your trip, you may also be exposed to the risk of identity theft. It is a serious crime with long-lasting and devastating consequences that can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time.
With a proactive approach, it is possible to minimize or even eliminate the possibility of identity theft. Read on and find out the best things to do.
How Identity Theft Can Happen When Traveling
When you’re traveling, you’re often in unfamiliar surroundings, which can make it easier for identity thieves to take advantage of you. Below are some ways by which you can be exposing yourself and your family to identity theft:
- Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks: Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, which means that anyone can access them. This makes it easy to intercept your personal information, such as your passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data.
- Lost or Stolen Documents: When you’re traveling, you may need to carry important documents with you, such as your passport, driver’s license, or credit card. If these documents are lost or stolen, they can be used to commit fraud.
- ATM skimming: Skimming is a technique to steal your credit or debit card information. They attach a device to the ATM that reads and copies information when you insert it.
- Phishing Scams: Identity bandits may send you emails or texts that look like they’re from legitimate sources, such as your bank or credit card company. They’ll ask you to provide personal information or click on a link that will take you to a fake website where they can access sensitive data.
- Shoulder surfing: This is when identity thieves look over your shoulder while you’re entering your PIN or other information into a computer or ATM.
- Hotel Theft: Your hotel room may not be as secure as you think. Housekeeping staff, maintenance workers, and even other guests may be able to access your room and steal your personal information.
- Rental Car Theft: Be careful about leaving personal information in the car you are renting. Such information can be used for fraudulent purposes.
Tips for Protecting Your Family’s Identity While Traveling
There are several steps you can take to protect your family’s identity while traveling. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Secure Your Electronic Devices
Make sure your laptop, tablet, and smartphone have up-to-date security software installed. Use a strong password to lock your devices when you’re not using them. Monitor children when they are using electronic devices and educate them about the potential dangers of sharing information online.
Use Identity Theft Protection Software
These services use advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to monitor your personal information, such as your social security number and credit card details, across the web. You’ll have plenty of options, but in many online comparisons, Aura won hands down. The company offers a range of identity theft protection services, such as credit monitoring, dark web monitoring, and identity restoration services.
Be Careful With Public Wi-Fi and Computers
Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for anything sensitive, such as online banking or shopping. If you must use public internet connections, ensure the website is secure (look for the “https” in the URL). It can also be tempting to use public computers, such as those in hotels, but be careful. These computers may not be secure and could be infected with malware or keylogging software that can capture your personal information.
Don’t Carry Unnecessary Documents and IDs
Only carry the documents and IDs you need for your trip. Leave any unnecessary documents, such as your Social Security card, at home. Meanwhile, you should also avoid leaving them in unsafe places, such as a rental car.
Keep Your Wallet and Documents Close
When you’re out and about, keep your wallet and documents in a secure location, such as a zippered pocket or a cross-body bag.
Be Cautious When Using ATMs
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Cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Check the machine for any signs of tampering, such as loose or unusual-looking card slots, and report anything suspicious to the bank.
Use an RFID-Blocking Wallet
RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology is used in some credit cards and passports to transmit information wirelessly. However, this can also make it easier for thieves to steal your information using a scanner. Consider using an RFID-blocking wallet or passport holder to help protect against this type of theft.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Pay attention to who is around you and be on the lookout for anyone who may be trying to steal your personal information.
Monitor Your Accounts Regularly
Keep an eye on your bank and credit card accounts to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. If you do see something suspicious, report it immediately. The earlier you report, the lesser the chance of compromising your family’s identity.
What To Do After a Case of Identity Theft
If you discover that your identity has been stolen while traveling, it’s crucial to take action immediately to minimize the damage. Here are some steps to take:
- Contact your bank and credit card companies: Report any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges on your accounts. They may be able to freeze your accounts and issue new cards to prevent further fraud.
- File a report with the local police: If your passport or other important documents were stolen, file a report with the local police department. This can help you get a replacement passport and may be required by your insurance company.
- Notify the credit bureaus: Contact the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will notify lenders that your identity may have been stolen and can help prevent further damage.
Identity theft is rampant, putting traveling families at risk. By taking the necessary precautions, monitoring your accounts, and educating your children about the risks of identity theft, you can help ensure that your family stays safe and secure while on the road. Remember to always be vigilant and report any suspicious activity immediately. Safe travels!