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? An Experian survey found that 20 percent of participants had sensitive information like credit or debit cards, personal identification or smartphones stolen while on vacation. 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.
- Contact your financial institution and credit card issuers and inform them of your travel plans. You can place a travel notification on your account typically by calling or logging on to mobile banking. Click here for more information on Navy Federal Credit Union’s mobile banking.*
- Temporarily stop mail through the USPS if you’re on a trip longer than three 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 smart phone locator app 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.
- 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 four-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.
- 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. Click here to learn more about Navy Federal Credit Union’s Security Center to protect your personal data and help prevent against fraud.
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