Heading on vacation yet this summer? Many of our clients have postponed trips, hoping to “beat the heat” later in the season. With much of the country suffering from record-breaking temps, many have literally found it dangerous to travel. Unfortunately, there’s another danger lurking around the corner for vacationers – the possibility of identity theft while away from home.
You can greatly reduce your risk by following these five simple tips:
1. Don’t “broadcast” your travel plans to others on various social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. While you may be excited about your upcoming plans, it’s best to wait until you return to post pictures or update friends regarding your adventures. Sites such as Facebook often have virtually unlimited connections, and the last thing you want to do is invite a stranger to invade your home while you are gone, potentially leading to identity theft or other losses.
2. Be sure to put a hold on your daily newspaper and mail. Allowing these to pile up is always a sure-fire way to let others know you’re away for an extended time, serving as a perfect invitation for mail theft or home invasion. The local post office can easily freeze delivery with a written request, and the newspaper can generally accept a similar request by phone.
3. No hoarding when packing for vacation. If you’re not going to need it, don’t bring it because thieves can’t steal what you don’t have. Only bring the credit cards you plan to use, leave your Social Security card at home, and most importantly, make copies of the front and back of all cards and information in your wallet (keeping those copies in another safe place). If you should lose your wallet or have it stolen, these copies will allow you to instantly notify the necessary parties to cancel cards, etc.
4. Be cautious of Wi-Fi internet. While wildly popular and advertised as a nice perk at thousands of hotels, bookstores and coffee shops around the country, free Wi-Fi often means your information is being transmitted over open airwaves, making it relatively easy for an uninvited parties to intercept it. Look for stickers or signs indicating a Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) network, which provides greater protection for your information.
5. Don’t trust hotel staff. Every year, we hear reports of clients who’ve had information taken because it was simply left out in their unattended hotel room. Use the hotel safe rather than just trusting your belongings out in the room, and if the room’s safe isn’t sufficient, request secured storage from the hotel management in a main safe or other secure holding location.
If you’re sneaking in a vacation yet this summer, have a great time, stay cool and stay safe! We look forward to hearing of your travels when we see you next!