Excited for an upcoming trip? As you enter the whirlwind of packing and last minute errands, there’s a category of travel to dos you may have overlooked: identity protection.
Just like health and security precautions, identity protection is an important component of safe travel. While protecting your personal data may be the last thing on your mind as you plan for exciting destinations, becoming a victim of identity theft is a sure way to ruin your vacation.
The cost of identity theft can be significant, both financially and in the many hours spent recovering your identity. In 2020 alone, consumers lost an astounding $56 billion to identity fraud.1
The good news? There are simple steps you can take before you leave town to protect your identity and relax on that beach with a little extra peace of mind.
5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Identity Before You Travel
- Watch out for travel scams: From “free” vacations to ultra cheap airfares and rental houses, there are plenty of scams to watch out for. In 2020, consumers reported $175 million in losses to travel scams.2 While you may be looking for a deal as you plan your trip, if it looks too good to be true — it probably is! Learn more and get our tips for how to protect yourself from travel scams.
- Contact your bank: Notify your bank and credit card providers of your travel plans — where you’re going and the dates you’ll be gone. This way they’ll know it’s you making purchases far from home and won’t flag your transactions as fraudulent or freeze your card when you need it most. …And if someone does use your credit card in a location not on your itinerary, this will trigger identity fraud alarms.
- Go easy on social media: You may be excited to share your travel plans with friends and family via social media, but announcing on the internet that you’ll be away could leave your home vulnerable to break-ins, and put your valuables and sensitive personal documents at risk. Check your privacy settings to control who can see your posts.
- Check your credit report: Monitoring your credit is always a good idea, but having a “before” and “after” comparison for your trip is especially valuable. Check your credit report before you leave and then again after you return so you’re able to easily spot any changes that come up. Plus, if you notice anything suspicious on your credit report before you leave, you’ll have the opportunity to address it before your trip.
- Stop Your Mail: Utility bills and other documents may contain personal information that can be used for identity theft, plus a pile of mail signals you’re away and could make your home a target for break-ins. Ask a neighbor you trust to pick up your mail, or better yet use the USPS’s Hold Mail Service. USPS will hold your mail securely at your local post office for up to 30 days while you’re gone.
Prep Your Wallet Before Your Trip
With your ID, credit cards, and other important documents, your wallet contains some sensitive information. Prepping your wallet before your next trip is another important way you can protect yourself from identity fraud.
Step 1: Clean out your wallet
Take only what you need for your trip. Leave your loyalty cards at home. Bring your driver’s license, AAA card, International Driving Permit, medical cards, and special IDs for discounts (such as senior or student IDs). Make sure you have an ATM card, a credit card, and a backup credit card that you’ll store separately from your wallet.
Step 2: Make a digital back-up
Snap some pictures and create a digital back-up of your wallet’s contents in a document, cloud storage platform, or wallet app that are password-protected. This way, if your wallet is lost or stolen during your trip you’ll have a record of your important information. You can also easily upload important documents to cloud storage with Identity Champion’s Lost Wallet Assistance feature, included with both our Protect and Complete plans.
Step 3: Consider purchasing a travel wallet
If you’re traveling to a destination where pickpocketing is a high risk, consider purchasing a travel wallet, money belt, or money pouch for greater travel safety. Keeping important documents close to your body will make them harder to steal. Most travel wallets are also large enough to hold your passport, and some are equipped with a lining that prevents RFID skimming of personal information from the chips in your credit cards and passport.
Should You Get Identity Theft Insurance?
Sometimes the unexpected happens, and when it does, having a backup plan like identity theft insurance can help you save time and money and avoid some major hassles.
If your wallet is stolen during your trip or you’re the victim of a scam, fraudsters may be able to steal money from your bank accounts, open credit cards under your name, and pursue other fraudulent activities. These activities can impact your credit score and potentially put you on the hook financially.
Identity theft insurance is available through many major insurance providers and through Identity Champion’s Protect and Complete plans. Our identity theft insurance provides reimbursement starting at up to $200,000 for funds stolen from your financial accounts and up to $2 million for eligible expenses associated with restoring your identity, such as legal fees, lost wages, childcare costs, and more.3
Additionally, with our Lost Wallet Assistance program you’ll get the support of a dedicated specialist to quickly contact card issuers to help you restore the contents of your lost wallet. Learn more about our identity monitoring and insurance plans.3
Simple steps before your trip like contacting your bank, prepping your wallet, and getting identity theft insurance can be powerful tools for identity protection. Learn more about how Identity Champion can help you protect your identity while you travel.