You pack sunscreen to protect your skin at the beach, but do you take steps to protect yourself from identity theft and other forms of fraud when you travel? Don’t let a stressful and potentially harmful 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.
- Verify your financial institution has your correct mobile phone number and email so they can contact you in case of suspicious activity.
- Set up 2-Step Verification, if you haven’t already.
- Contact your financial institution and credit card issuers and inform them of your travel plans. You can place a travel notification on your Navy Federal Credit Union account via digital banking* or by calling 1-888-842-6328.
- Temporarily stop mail through the USPS® if you’re on a trip longer than 3 days.
- Make copies of important documents and credit cards you’ll be taking with you and leave the copies with a trusted friend or relative.
- Set up a smartphone locator app, like Where’s My Droid or Find My iPhone®, so if your smartphone is lost or stolen, you can find it and block it from use.
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. Locate Navy Federal ATMs for additional security.
- 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 your 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 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 at annualcreditreport.com. Request one from each credit bureau at 4-month intervals so you can monitor for a full year.
In Case of Fraud
- Call your financial institution immediately to put a hold on your account. Navy Federal members can call the 24-hour service line at 1-888-842-6328.
- 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. Learn more about protecting your personal data and preventing fraud at the Navy Federal Security Center.
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This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.