You plan and pack, carefully preparing for a trip no matter if it's for business or pleasure. The one thing that's easy to neglect is your identity. Though you certainly don't leave it behind.
Anytime you take a trip, you take multiple elements of your identity with you. Here are some valuable tips from ProtectMyID to help you protect your identity while traveling. Hint: It starts before you ever leave home.
Before You Go: Travel Preparations
Limit what you pack
What you don't take can be just as important as what you do. There are several items to scratch off your list of things to pack. These include your debit card, Social Security card, birth certificate, checkbook and even your library card. If you're traveling domestically, leave your passport at home too. As you're packing, set aside your most important items and documents to carry with you in your wallet, briefcase, purse or carryon.
Lock up at home
Not just your front door, either. Do a sweep of your office and other places where you might have personally identifying information (PII) sitting around. Store these important documents and items, maybe even your external hard drive with all of your files backed up on it, in a locked safe.
Make copies of important documents
As for the important documents you're taking, make two sets of copies. This includes your credit cards (front and back) and passport in particular. Leave one set of copies in a safe place at home and take the second with you in case your originals are stolen.
Select and prep your credit cards
Couples should carry cards from different accounts in case of a problem with one account. To ensure you don't catch the attention of your card's fraud department and get shut down, alert your card issuer to your travel plans. A high volume of charges or overseas activity may trigger deactivation. Also ask for a phone number you can call from overseas if your card doesn't list one. The 800 number on the back of your card might not work outside the U.S.
Don't make it obvious you're gone
Have your mail and newspaper put on hold, if necessary. Or have a neighbor or friend watching your home bring them in so you're not leaving clues about your vacant house. You keep your most important personal documents at home, and you don't want someone breaking in and helping themselves to your identity.
Be Cautious During Your Trip
Stay aware of your surroundings
Even as you take in and enjoy your surroundings, also keep your wits about you. That goes for when you're in the airport and on the plane, not just when you arrive at your destination. Pickpockets flock to popular tourist attractions, hoping you'll be too busy with your camera or map to notice their activities. But there may be untrustworthy passengers on the plane too. Also be wary of shoulder surfers, who watch you enter login credentials, PINs, credit card numbers and other personal data on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. All in the hopes of catching something they can use later to steal your identity.
Keep your personal items close
Setting down your purse or smartphone out of your reach. Keeping your wallet in your back pocket or your purse in your hand. These are all on the list of what not to do while you're traveling, no matter how secure your surroundings seem. Keep your wallet in your front pocket, wear a neck pouch or use a cross-body bag. And keep all items close, not hanging on the back of a chair or door or on the ground while you're taking a picture. You'd be amazed at just how quickly criminals can take off with something that's valuable to you and to them, not just for the cash but your personal information too.
Use your hotel safe
You might not give a second thought to how many hotel employees have access to your room, even ones that shouldn't. Keep your important documents, cash, extra credit cards and other sensitive items in your hotel safe while you're out. Then you won't have to give a second thought to whether they are secure. Make it a priority to drop off things you don't need in the safe as soon you enter the room, every time you enter the room. If there's not a safe inside your room, the hotel may provide secure storage at the front desk.
Be mindful of scams
Is that call in the middle of the night on your hotel phone really from the front desk? Is that text message saying your credit card has been frozen really from your card issuer? Scam artists use various tricks to catch you off guard, hoping you'll quickly respond with your credit card number and other personal data. But stop and think first. If you're worried there's really a problem, go directly to the source. Walk down to the front desk or call the number on the back of your credit card. It's better to take the extra measures to investigate issue then act quickly and regret it.
Limit what you post online
Real-time social networking while you're travelling can be risky business. Your posts and pictures clearly announce that you aren't home. Even if you're fairly certain you can trust everyone in your network, you can never trust that the information you post online won't travel beyond your intended audience. It's easier than ever to share information with a click of a button. And, when you aren't home, the important documents and data you've left behind are unguarded. So think about how much you need to share about your trip while it's happening - if anything at all. That includes how long you'll be gone.
Once You're Back Home
It's good to check up on your identity once your trip is done. Watch the statements from the credit cards you travelled with carefully for any signs of unauthorized purchases. As an extra precaution, order your 3-bureau credit report and scores to ensure your credit hasn't changed significantly.
Protecting your identity on a daily basis with ProtectMyID can help you feel secure about your identity no matter where you go. We're even a good travel companion. You can easily track new activity related to your identity from any location by signing up to receive our Surveillance Alert notifications by text message or by downloading the ProtectMyID App for iPhone or Android.
ProtectMyID's Lost Wallet protection also comes to your aid if your wallet has been lost or stolen. We'll help you cancel and replace your debit, credit and medical insurance cards to save you from the headache and promptly cut off identity thieves before they go crazy with your accounts.
To keep your identity protection awareness up to date, be sure to subscribe to our blog, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.