Fighting ID Theft When Traveling
It’s been famously said that travel is one of life’s greatest rewards. Today, we travel for an expanding list of reasons beyond just personal and cultural enrichment. Whatever the reason that you travel next, identity theft is a growing concern whether information is skimmed off your person or your home base while you’re away – and there’s no worse vacation hangover to return home to than discovering you’ve had credit cards opened in your name or an unexpectedly drained bank account. How can you help to fight off these opportunistic hucksters? Enhance your peace of mind the next time you’re away by considering a few tips to bake into your travel prep plans.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and that’s true of your home situation when it comes to identity theft. If you live alone (or your whole household is traveling), make sure that your windows and front porch are a dead giveaway. Consider putting a few interior lamps on evening timers that recreate your regular activities so that casual passers-by have no indication you’re away for a few days or more. Also, make sure you halt a paper delivery (if you still take one) and pause your mail at the post office before you depart if you’ll be away an extended time. A stack of unattended newspapers on a front lawn or porch is one of the most preventable signs of travel. Pre-travel is also a great time to make sure your mail is as secure as you need it to be, with a keyed box or other secured delivery location.
Beyond just securing your mail, make sure other sensitive information is secured in the house – just as you’d have it be when workers or guests enter – so that means checkbooks and banking information are put away. Trash has been emptied, and documents that need to be shredded aren’t piled next to the shredder, they’ve been processed and bagged up for recycling.
You may also want to think about booking a housekeeper while you’re away – or at least someone to come in and water your plants – just make sure this isn’t your time to try out someone new. It should be someone who’s already earned your trust and can handle checking in on things while you’re away. If they don’t yet pass that test for you, put it on your roadmap for your next travel opportunity, and they can make sure your trash gets emptied on the regular schedule, too – another solid giveaway for cruising thieves.
Finally, make sure you’re not without the information on what to do if you do become the latest victim of identity theft. Being without the information leaves you uncertain about the response steps that come next. Don’t be caught unprepared – with identity theft one of the fastest-rising crime incidences today, you’ll want to be knowledgeable about who to contact to get things back on track.
You’ve worked hard to make a good start with your finances. Don’t let an opportunistic thief make off with your information and not know what comes next. You won’t have to fear your vulnerability when you travel next, and can get a little more relaxation and enjoyment out of your next time away.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.