Identity theft is a significant threat across the globe; crime rates have risen to epidemic proportions over the last several years. Despite consumers diligence in protecting the sanctity of their identity and credit report while at home, traveling presents a collection of unique challenges all its own. While there is no full-proof method to protecting your identity 24/7, there are some general guidelines to follow in the “rules of the road”.
Keep valuable documents with you, at all times
Never leave birth certificates, social security cards, passports or other personal identification or information in a suitcase. Suitcases can potentially be tampered with or lost during travel, and your documents along with them. Keep these on your person at all times.
Put a hold on your mail
Identity thieves are exceptionally astute, often watching doorsteps and mailboxes in numerous neighborhoods for a build up of newspapers or mail. Put a hold on your mail at the post office until a few days after you return from your trip. You do not even need to make a special trip to the post office to do this; it is easy to do online via the USPS. Ask a friend or neighbor to collect your newspapers and any deliveries while you are away.
Leave things you do not need at home, or in a safety deposit box
If your travel does not require certain forms of identification such as social security cards or birth certificates, leave these items at home, secured in a safe or in a safety deposit box at your bank. Taking documents you do not need with you on any trip is a recipe for trouble.
Use the hotel safe
Whenever you leave your hotel room, protect your valuables and electronics by securing them in the hotel safe in your room, or in the hotel safe at the concierge desk. Identity thieves are everywhere, and your laptop or tablet PC presents a smorgasbord of personal information ready for the taking. Never leave your electronic devices available or unattended.
Be careful where (and how) you connect online
It is also crucial to be aware of your Internet connectivity settings when traveling; specifically allowing any unsecured Internet connections. Unsecured connections allow your data to float around in the atmosphere unprotected. Avoid using banking websites or any other password-protected websites when using these types of connections, and only trust Internet connections requiring a unique user name and password.
Above all, be careful and aware of your surroundings when traveling. Too often the excitement, combination of hectic schedules and hustle and bustle of vacations or business trips contribute to disregard. Make sure to slow down and verify that you have all of your personal information throughout your trip by taking a mental inventory at various stopping points. After taking these simple measures, sit back, relax and enjoy your trip; knowing your identity is safeguarded from those who would do it harm.