You have to worry about more than just getting pick-pocketed while on the road. Travelers are especially vulnerable to identity theft. We spoke with two leading identity theft experts about keeping your data safe while on the road.
Surf Safely. Think twice before you pop into an Internet cafe to book your next night’s stay. “Booking travel online is just like any other shopping you do on the Internet,” cautions Privacy and Fraud Expert John Sileo of ThinkLikeASpy.com. “Make sure you’re on a well-protected computer (with updated security software) and are surfing in a secure manner (not from a free Wi-Fi hotspot). Shop only at reputable websites.”
Watch out for Auto-Complete Forms. “Never auto-save your information” on computers, says Ken Lin, CEO of CreditKarma.com. It’s especially dangerous if you’re using a public computer.
Give Credit Cards Credit. Lin and Sileo both recommend booking travel on credit cards rather than debit cards, because you can easily dispute a charge if something goes wrong.
Bank with Caution. When getting cash in an unfamiliar spot, watch out for card readers, which Lin says thieves can install in ATMs to steal PN numbers and account information. Use ATMs located within a bank branch, and cover the keypad to keep your PIN code private.
Pack Lightly. Do you really need all of your credit cards and IDs on a trip? Clean out your wallet before you go, and leave nonessential items behind. Sileo says, “Leave as much identity (laptops, iPads, smartphones, packed wallets, purses, extra IDs and credit cards, checks, etc.) at home as feasible. While you are there, keep your identity on your person. Don’t leave it in an unattended hotel or conference room.”
Lock-down Your Credit: “If you have a relatively stable financial situation you can place a security freeze on your credit,” advises Lin. “This will require an extra verification step before allowing someone to pull you’re your credit information. The down side is this can make it more difficult when applying for new credit lines (like credit cards, auto loans and mortgages), and there is a fee so we recommend not doing this if it’s likely you’ll be applying for several new credit lines in the next year. Another option is to place a Fraud Alert on your credit before traveling. The nice thing about a fraud alert it expires in 90 days and there is no fee. “
How do you guard your identity while traveling? Tell us in the comments.
(Photo: Shutterstock/Aleksandar Todorovic)