August 6th, 2013
4 Easy Tips to Help Protect Your Identity While on Vacation
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Summer travel is in full swing and many of us are getting those last minute trips in before the sun sets on summer. While vacations are about relaxing and being stress-free, they can also leave us more susceptible to identity theft. It continues to be the fastest growing crime in America. According to the credit bureau TransUnion, every minute 19 people fall victim to identity theft.
How can Americans keep their personal information from being compromised while getting some much needed R&R? Here are four easy-to-follow tips that can help you better protect yourself while on vacation.
Use Your Common Sense
Identity theft is still largely a crime of opportunity, so guard yourself by limiting the opportunities for your identity to be compromised. Especially when traveling, don’t check your financial statements on a public computer where any number of people could be watching. Common sense goes a long way when it comes to protecting your identity.
Weed Out Your Wallet
If your trip takes you to any major tourist destinations, make sure to watch for pickpockets. It is a good idea to go through your wallet and remove any unnecessary credit cards and personal information before you leave. Make copies of all your important documents and leave them with a trusted family member or friend. This way, if your wallet is stolen, you’ll have access to all your information and can quickly alert your account providers.
Protect Your Devices
Even when we are on vacation, most of us can’t take a vacation from our phone, laptop, and/or tablet. All these devices are great to have, but they also carry a wealth of information that any thief would love to get their hands on. Arm your devices with intricate passwords and set them to auto-lock if possible. Think twice before accessing that unsecure hotel network.
Monitor Your Credit and Exercise Your Rights
This is one of the quickest and most effective ways to catch identity theft. Credit monitoring services will alert you to changes in your credit report or any suspicious activity in real time even while you are traveling. Credit Karma offers a completely free credit monitoring service that looks at your credit report daily and alerts you via email or on your cellphone if anything significant changes, such as a new account created in your name or another hard inquiry.
If you do unfortunately become a victim of identity theft, acting quickly can help stop the thief from doing any more damage. The FTC has a full list of steps you should take, but first make sure you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free and makes sure lenders call you before opening any new lines of credit.
Amy Leone is the Public Relations Coordinator at Credit Karma. Before joining the team in June 2012 she spent most of her career as a TV news producer. When she’s not helping promote Credit Karma on a variety of media outlets, she’s probably out running or exploring her new state of California.
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