A vacation is a time to leave worries behind and enjoy new sights, smells, and tastes. However, a bit of precaution can be worth the time it takes when it comes to protecting yourself and your identity while abroad. Most people you come across will not be dangerous, and traveling is worth the risk, especially when armed with the knowledge to recognize and thwart scammers and risky situations.
10 Tips for Protecting Your Identity Abroad
- Do not just use any available WiFi network. Unsecured WiFi can put all of your information at risk while you’re using it. While traveling, you will discover that secured internet connections are difficult to find, therefore it is a good idea to avoid signing on to sensitive web pages if you are not confident in the connection. If you do need to log in on an unsecured network, use HTTPS://www.website.com instead of HTTP://www.website.com — the “S” in HTTPS stands for secure, and your data will be better protected.
- Leave any unnecessary documents at home. If you do not need a document to get in or out of the country or return home, it is best to leave it at home. If there are documents you must carry that may compromise your security, then it may be a good idea to store them someplace more secure than your wallet in case your wallet gets stolen. It is a hassle to have to cancel your credit cards in the scenario of wallet theft, however once your personal information falls into the wrong hands it may take years to undo the damage.
- When you use a public computer delete cookies, browsing history, and all evidence of your use. This simple step is vital because if you don’t, the next user could quickly get all the information you did not delete even if it is password protected. Even if you did not log on to a website, like your bank or credit card company’s site, you still do not want to compromise personal information that is on social media websites such as Facebook or Instagram.
- Keep up with your credit report and bank statements. Take the time to check (on a secure network, of course) your credit report and bank statements occasionally while enjoying your travels. This will make sure that you are on top of any changes immediately.
- Treat your cellphone like your home. Your cellphone should be locked any time you are not using it. If you set it down for a second or misplace it, the information retrieved can be significant. Keep it locked, and if it goes missing, contact your provider immediately. Keep as little personal information on the phone while out of country as well.
- Be picky about where you get your money. Not all ATMs are created equal. Make it a point to use only bank ATMs, not just any corner machine.
- Consider getting a wallet that has Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) protection built in. Identity theft can occur without the thief touching your wallet or person at all. By using a RFID reader, a person can read your card with it in your pocket and you will be none the wiser. RFID-proof wallets and sheaths are available and can protect your cards from such activity.
- Make a new email address just for traveling. Do not use the email address that connects you to your bank, family, and work while you are abroad. Use an address dedicated to traveling that will not compromise your identity so much if it is hacked.
- Do not overlook your children’s and travel companion’s identity. Even if you are the main breadwinner and the one with the bank account, your children or underage guests are just as at risk for identity theft. If the wrong person got their social security number, birth date, or any personal information, the thief could steal their identity and ruin their credit before they even have their first job.
- When you get home the precaution is not over. There are steps you need to take once you return home. First, go ahead and change your passwords and PIN numbers on your bank and credit card accounts. Be sure to check your credit and bank statement transactions regularly after returning home so you know immediately if you were compromised.
Contact us at AmTrust Identity Management if you would like more information about staying safe abroad and at home. We will help protect your identity and credit no matter where life takes you.