How to Prevent Identity Theft When You Travel
I recently had a vacation with my family that lasted several days. We had a great time and thankfully nothing eventful happened to put a damper on our adventures.
However, while we were gone I began thinking about another trip I will be taking soon. I will be traveling out of the country for the first time ever in less than two months.
I am a little nervous about the trip, mostly because I want to make sure I organize and pack everything I should. But I must admit I am also a little concerned about safety for myself and my fellow travelers.
Of course, the odds are that we will be fine, especially since there are several of us traveling together. Nevertheless, physical danger isnâ€™t the only kind of danger we could encounter while we are gone. We could also be the victims of theft.
In order to prevent that from occurring, I thought I should prepare ahead of time to limit opportunities for thieves to target us. Below I am sharing ways to prevent identity theft when you travel, at least some of which I plan to use myself on my upcoming trip.
1. Donâ€™t Bring What You Donâ€™t Need
One tactic that can prevent identity theft when you travel is to leave at home what you donâ€™t need. Donâ€™t bring medical documents, bank statements, checkbooks, or other items that could give thieves valuable information.
There are certain things you must have with you, obviously, such as passports and other identifying information. But you can keep these items on your person to avoid becoming the target of a thief. Use a money belt to make theft tougher.
2. Store it
While you are out and about enjoying your time away, store sensitive and important information in the hotelâ€™s safe where you are staying. Absolutely do not leave anything lying around in the hotel room while you are out and about. This could prevent your identity from being taken and used by someone else.
3. Limit Internet Use
Another thing that can help to prevent identity theft when you travel is to limit internet use. I plan on not using the internet or phone at all if I can help it on my upcoming trip. Hopefully, I will be too busy enjoying my vacation to spend time on my phone or the internet.
When you travel, though, use caution when you must get on the internet. Delete cookies and browsing histories on any public computers you use. Password protect your information with strong passwords and lock your phone whenever possible. Use secure and encrypted sites only that have â€œhttpsâ€ in the address.
Do not save passwords or auto-save information on forms. Use the Google Chrome browser and open your windows in “incognito mode” (Ctrl + Shift + N, or click on the menu bar in the upper right-hand corner). This will prevent your search history, passwords, and cookies from being automatically saved.
4. Avoid Giving Out Information
You may not be able to avoid giving out some of your information when you travel. Regardless, you should try not to give out your information, including phone numbers, if you can help it. Thieves can gain a lot of information about you by simply starting with a phone number.
5. Use Cash When You Can
Rather than using credit cards, use cash whenever it is possible. Fraud and identity protections put into place by your credit card company may not be instantaneous or cover all losses so guard them closely.
6. Stop Your Mail
Thieves wonâ€™t only steal from you as you are traveling, they may try to take information from your home while you are gone. Donâ€™t post anything on social media about your trip until you return.
A thief will use any opening you give them to take your information and use it for their own purposes. Guard your information closely to prevent identity theft when you travel.
Jeanne is a married mother of 2 grown children who works a full-time job, has two side hustles, and also helps out occasionally on the farm she and her husband own together. Her background is finance and medical office management, and she hopes to help others improve their finances and change their futures.
James is an internet entrepreneur, blogging junky, hunter and personal finance geek. When he’s not lurking in coffee shops in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find him in the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors. James has a masters degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Bachelors degree on Sociology from Earlham College. He loves individual stocks, bonds and precious metals.