As summer approaches, many people travel on vacation. Stolen cash or payment cards (e.g., debit cards, credit cards, bank ATM cards) can wreck a relaxing, carefree vacation. Below are 10 tips the Better Business Bureau (BBB) provided in 2013 that are effective and worthy of repeating:
"1. Don’t announce your travel plans on social media. This invites identity thieves to target your house while you’re away.
2. Place a hold on your mail. When criminals see an overflowing mailbox, they see an easy way to steal personal information.
3. Carry only necessities in your wallet when traveling. Go through your wallet and leave at home your library card and other cards with your name on them.
4. Set up a travel alert on your credit card accounts, and freeze your credit with the three credit bureaus.
5. Leave your laptop computer at home if you can. If you must travel with a laptop, update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Do not access bank accounts from your laptop while in a hotel room or at a coffee shop or other public location.
6. While staying at a hotel, lock important documents such as your passport in a safe.
7. Use only ATMs located in banks.
8. Protect your smartphone. Create a password for access, and use an application with a GPS locator to find your phone if it is lost or stolen.”
9. Don’t put your full name and address on luggage tags. Include just your last name and phone number.
10. Tear up and discard used boarding passes. Many travelers leave boarding passes behind in airplanes or hotels. They often contain full names and other personal information.
With tip #4, I inform my bank about the dates and countries where my credit-card purchases during vacation will be valid. Some of these tips (e.g., 1, 4, 7) I practice year-round. Some of these tips (e.g., 9, 10) I use for both business and vacation travel. During cruise ship vacations, I lock my wallet, important documents, and my smart phone in the safe in my stateroom.
What do you do to avoid identity theft during vacation travel?