Don’t let identity theft ruin your travel plans

Over 16.7 million people became victims of identity theft last year. Minimize your risk of identity theft while traveling by securing your home, personal information, credit cards, and mobile devices. Use these tips from CyberScout® to safeguard your identity.

Guard your cards

Unsecured credit cards can lead to identity theft. Being proactive can help you protect your identity and credit.

  • Only take one or two credit cards.
  • Activate fraud alerts on your cards.
  • Inform your banks and credit card issuers about your travel plans.
  • Protect chip (RFID) credit cards and passports from unauthorized scanning with a chip blocking wallet or document sleeve.
  • If you need cash while travelling, only use ATMs at banks to avoid card skimmers.
  • Do not give credit card info to callers claiming to be from the “front desk” or restaurants who slip “menus” under your hotel room door. Both could be scammers.

Protect your privacy

Approximately 55 percent of travel identity victims spend at least weeks up to more than a year working to resolve issues. Save yourself time with some simple actions.

  • Get your wallet travel-ready by removing extra info and cards.
  • Prepare for pickpockets by wearing a hidden money belt or travel wallet for cash, cards, and passport.
  • Bags should have sturdy straps across the chest.
  • Scan important travel and identification documents and store them in a secure online repository or with trusted family in case they are stolen or lost.
  • Write your name and phone number on your bag tags, but not your address.
  • Place cash, credit cards, and passports in a hotel safe whenever you’re not using them.
  • Make it look like someone is home by asking someone you trust to pick up deliveries and activating a few lights with timers.

tighten up tech

Technology habits can put you at risk, especially while travelling.

  • Research shows that a quarter of Wi-Fi hotspots can be hacked in minutes. Avoid public computers (including the hotel business center) to access anything sensitive.
  • Do not connect your mobile devices or laptops to free, public Wi-Fi.
  • Don’t post photos or statuses on social media that reveal you’re away from home.
  • Turn on password protection or biometric authentication on devices, making it harder for them to be hacked.
  • Disable file sharing. Thieves can use this tool to access your personal information.
  • Turn off automatic Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as these connections may be unsecured.

For more information

Did you know that every Grinnell Mutual homeowner’s policy comes with free CyberScout services? Get advice before anything bad happens — but also get help if something does.

 

Article adapted from CyberScout materials. Sources: “2018 Identity Fraud: Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity,” Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2018. ”Avoiding Summer Identity Theft: 5 Must-know Steps,” Experian, June 15, 2017. “2018 Identity Fraud: Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity,” Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2018. “1 in 4 Wi-Fi Hotspots Just Waiting to Be Hacked,” Kaspersky Lab, November 24, 2016. International Travel Report, Kaspersky Lab, June 2016. Survey for Experian conducted by Edelman Intelligence, March 2017. “RFID Pickpockets — Stop ‘em with RFID Blocking Gear,” Corporate Travel Safety Blog, October, 2017. “3 Eco-friendly Hacks to Protect Your Online Identity While Traveling,” Blueandgreentomorrow.com, March 2018. “Avoiding Unexpected Costs and Identity Theft on Your Spring Getaway,” WTNH Connecticut, February 2, 2018. “Don’t Fall for These Three Hotel Scams,” TripSavvy, June 1, 2017. “Protect Yourself from Identity Theft When Traveling,” Kiplinger, May 23, 2017.