How to protect your identity while traveling

October 25th, 2013 Tina Hummel
Couple reading a map

While you may go on vacation to get away from it all, identity thieves won’t take a break. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, it’s important to take a few steps before you leave to protect your identity.

Inform your bank of your trip.

At least three days before leaving contact your financial institution to provide them with your travel dates and destination. This will allow them to put a “travel exclusion” on your card, which will prevent the card from getting blocked for suspected fraudulent activity. In addition, it’s also a good idea to review the transaction limits on your debt and credit cards and give your bank your best contact information in case they need to contact you while you’re gone.

Don’t bring everything.

Go through your wallet and only pack the items that are absolutely essential. It’s not necessary to bring your Social Security Card, birth certificate, checkbook or items such as library cards and other non-essential cards that have your name or address on it. If you’re traveling domestically there is no need to bring your passport.

Use your PIN number whenever possible.

Despite placing a travel exclusion on your card, a specific transaction may still be denied. This is because every transaction made with a debit card is evaluated in real-time for potential fraud. Transactions which appear to be fraudulent can be denied. The chance of a card being denied increases in certain situations; for example, a card being used in a state or country where fraud is common. Using your PIN number may reduce the chance of your card being denied. If your card is denied more than twice, contact your bank or card issuer, such as Shazam.

Use your hotel safe.

Keep your important documents, cash, extra credit cards and other items in your hotel safe while you’re out. It’s best to place these items into the safe as soon as you enter the room, so you don’t forget. While you’re out exploring, make sure you keep your wallet, phone and camera close. You’d be surprised how quickly thieves can snatch these items from you.

Leave your laptop at home.

If at all possible, leave your laptop at home. If you must travel with a laptop, update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Avoid accessing bank accounts from your laptop while in a hotel room or at a coffee shop or other public location without a secure internet connection.

Prepare for the unexpected.

Write down or make a copy of the information on the front and back of your credit cards. If your card is lost or stolen, or it’s not working, you will be able to contact the card issuer and ask for assistance. It’s also a good idea to have the contact information for your personal banker handy.

Stay vigilant.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report after you’ve returned home from a lengthy trip. This may help you catch fraud early, giving you the ability to report the fraudulent activity immediately.

Tina Hummel

About the author

Tina Hummel is Retail Manager at MidWestOne Bank. She works in the retail department, specializing in checking and savings accounts, consumer loans, auto loans and home equity loans.

Comments are closed.