Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation

A bed with white linens in a room brightly lit by french doors.

A hotel room in the Florida Keys. © Laura Martone.

Identity theft is, unfortunately, one of the many pitfalls of traveling. In the past, I’ve offered several posts on the subject, including a piece about evading pickpockets and a two-part series about safeguarding your identity. Since this is my last official week as Moon’s American Nomad, though, I thought I’d provide just a bit more related advice, which will hopefully prove to be helpful on any future trips you take—no matter the destination or circumstances.

So, here, courtesy of a comprehensive identity protection service known as TrustedID, are several more safety tips (a few of which I’ve shared before) for avoiding identity theft while on vacation:

    • Stay thin: Before you take on your summer adventure, go through your wallet and remove unnecessary credit/debit cards, as well as anything displaying personal information. Make copies of important documents before you leave, such as passport, driver’s license, and travel tickets, in case something happens to them.
    • Stay secure: Hotel computers and unsecure Wi-Fi connections are easy targets for hackers and identity thieves. If you need to check your email, always ensure that you’re using a secure network. Never access sensitive information, such as your bank account, on these networks.
    • Stay safe: While you shouldn’t carry personal documents with you when you’re out and about, hotel rooms aren’t necessarily the safest option. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops contain a huge amount of valuable data, so use room or hotel safes to lock these valuable items away.
    • Don’t stand-alone: Stand-alone ATMs are more likely to have skimming devices. Stick with bank ATMs whenever possible.
    • Beware pickpockets: It sounds old school, but this does still happen. Pickpockets prey on you in high traffic areas such as malls, amusement parks, and sporting events. Some are only interested in cash, but others are out for your driver’s license and social security number. Keep your credit cards and ID in a secure place, like a money belt. Don’t keep all your cash in the pouch though—spread it around with some in your wallet, some in the hotel room, and some even in your shoe.
    • No checkbook checkout: Checking account fraud is one of the most difficult types of identity theft from which to recover, and being far from home will only add to your frustration. When traveling, use cash, traveler’s checks, or credit cards for purchases.
    • Don’t brag: You may be traveling the world, but don’t let the world know you’re away. When you share your excitement and plans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., the Internet now knows that your home will be unattended. There’s no better opportunity for a thief to empty out your house. Share travel plans only with close friends!

So, have such tips worked for you while traveling—and do have any additional advice for avoiding identity theft?

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