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Hackers and scammers don’t take vacations. Fact is, they just might be waiting for you to pack up the kids and head out on your summer getaway before they spring into action.

Identity theft and fraud is more common than you may think. When you’re traveling, that’s when you might be most vulnerable. Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from ID Theft and fraud when you travel.

Planning and Pre-Trip

  1. Beware of Travel Deal Hoaxes – While searching online for the greatest deal, be aware that at times your email inbox might be lying to you. A deal that sounds too good to be true, probably is. Before you book, look for these red flags: “Act now” offers that give you little time to evaluate; vendors or airlines you’ve never heard of; booking transactions that must be done on the phone.
  2. Make Copies of EVERYTHING – Before you depart, copy important ID docs (passport, driver’s license, visa, etc.) and store the copies digitally in the cloud. (email, Google DocsTM). If something does get stolen, you’ll have access to them from a computer or your phone. That way, if the need arises to prove you are you, you can.
  3. Register with STEP – The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) was set up by our government to protect you. It provides information for travelers, including alerts, restrictions, and information on visas, vaccinations, country laws and consular contact information. Enroll or learn more at step.state.gov/step.
  4. Leave Your Social Security Card – Don’t pack your Social Security card or any other unnecessary cards or IDs that have your social security number on it.
  5. Keep the Lights On – Do you have the lights in your house on a timer? Can you arrange for someone to pick up your mail or the newspaper? Make arrangements with your neighbors or friends to come by and give your house that lived in feeling for the days/weeks you're travelling. Believe it or not, important documents like IDs might be a thief’s target – in addition to valuables.
  6. Hold My Mail. Please. – Put mail on “postal hold” while you’re gone. It’s easy. Go to your local post office or do it online at holdmail.usps.com/holdmail.

On The Trip

  1. Lock It Up in the Hotel Safe – If your hotel has a main safe, use it. Ask the concierge to lock up your passport. It might be OK to use the safe in the room if it has one, but it’s a better idea to use the hotel safe as it’s probably more secure.
  2. Keep an Eye on Your Stuff – Pickpockets and thieves prey on tourists, especially abroad. Keep an eye on your purse or shoulder bag, and keep it on you and close to your body when possible. If you have a jacket with an inside pocket, use it for your IDs or cash.
  3. Public Wi-Fi Don’ts – Free hotel, airport, or café Wi-Fi may be convenient, but it probably isn’t secure. Avoid using it on your trip for sensitive matters or transactions like online banking, making a purchase with a credit card, or even reading your email.
  4. Password Protect Your Phone – Imagine if your phone got stolen on the beach and someone got access to all your apps and personal information? Password protect your phone. It’s common sense. Smartphones are awesome, but lock it down…especially when you're traveling.