Summer travel season is officially here. During the summer we all like to relax and unwind while traveling with our family and friends. As you relax, don’t be too careless about protecting your identity.
Travelers in unknown places are often targeted by pickpockets, muggers, and identity thieves. Even if you let your hair down, it’s important not to let your guard down. To help protect yourself and your family, consider these tips while you’re on vacation.
Set a budget
Before you go, create a realistic budget. Ask yourself a few questions about your upcoming expenses. Will you drive or fly? Will you stay with friends or will you have to pay for a hotel? How much will you spend on your entertainment expenses? Remember, once your vacation is over, reality will set in and your daily bills will be staring you in the face.
Carry only the credit cards you’ll need, and definitely leave the rest at home. More importantly, leave your checkbook at home as credit cards are widely accepted. Dig through your wallet and be sure to remove any cards that contain sensitive information. It’s always a good idea to pack a debit card to withdraw at reliable ATMs.
Avoid Skipping Payments
Make sure all your bills get paid while you’re away. There’s nothing worse than coming back from an amazing vacation and discovering a shut-off notice from your utility company because you forgot to pay your bill. Simply by planning ahead and setting up automatic payments through your credit union.
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Resist the urge to post all your plans and photos on Facebook and Instagram. You may be giving local thieves permission to break into your home or business. Post your photos after you get home.
Protect your mail while you’re away
Be sure to put your mail on hold with the US Postal Service while you’re gone. Go to holdmail.usps.com to start the wait. Why is it important to retain your mail? You don’t want identity thieves stealing mail from your mailbox and gaining access to your sensitive information like credit card statements, checks, etc.
Protect your cash
Only carry as much cash as you are comfortable losing to a would-be thief. Don’t carry all your cash in one place. Put something in your pocket, something in a money belt, and maybe even in your sock.
Suspend your subscriptions
Nothing screams vacation like a stack of uncollected newspapers in the driveway. If you can’t suspend your subscriptions, ask a neighbor to pick them up while you’re away. Again, you don’t want burglars to know you’re not home.
Configure Cyber Security Alerts
It’s a great idea to set up alerts on all your credit card and bank statements. You will receive a text message or email each time your credit card is used, protecting you from fraudulent use.
Practice Internet Safety
While traveling within the US or abroad, always think twice before frequenting Internet cafes to access your financial accounts online. While most businesses are legitimate and have a protected ISP, others may harbor hackers who would access your accounts and make you a victim of identity theft.
Lastly, wear sunscreen.
In the long term, sunscreen is less expensive than the medical treatment you may need due to excessive sun exposure. And in the short term, it can help stave off the pain of sunburn so you can enjoy your well-deserved vacation!
Here is the happiest of journeys!