Have big summer travel plans? Warm weather, sunny beaches, and theme parks – these are the hallmarks of summer vacation. Unfortunately, so is identity theft. Vacationers often unknowingly leave their personal information exposed to thieves while traveling, which can turn a worry-free break into a prolonged and stressful fight to reclaim a stolen identity. Before you pack your bags, here are 4 simple ways to protect yourself against identity theft this summer:
Tip #1: Be careful about using public Wi-Fi. While free Wi-Fi is great, avoid checking your online banking account on Wi-Fi in hotels, coffee shops and restaurants. Many public Wi-Fi connections are not secure, making it easier for thieves to capture personal information. Be safe and before you log in, turn your Wi-Fi off on your phone and then log in to your account using your cellular data.
Tip #2: Safeguard your wallet. Some summer destinations are notorious for pickpockets that target tourists. As a matter of fact, you might be safer carrying around your 1st Financial Federal Credit Union Visa card rather than cash because then you’ll be protected from unauthorized use of your card. The Visa Zero Liability policy eliminates consumer liability for fraudulent transactions. If your wallet is lost or stolen while traveling, immediately call us at the credit union to place a fraud alert on your credit card.
Tip #3: Schedule bill payments ahead of time. Avoid making bill payments while on vacation, it adds another opportunity for thieves to steal your identity and who wants to think about their bills on vacation? Use 1st Financial’s free online bill pay, to plan and pay your bills ahead of time, before you leave. You can receive, view, and pay bills all in one location and set up email alerts for bill arrivals. Once you are registered for online bill pay, you can pay bills from anywhere in the world quickly and easily. It can also help you avoid late payments which could hurt your credit score.
Tip #4: Keep copies of your credit cards and passport in a safe place. Should your credit cards get stolen, having your credit card numbers handy helps banks or card issuers protect your information even faster. Also, shred travel documents containing sensitive information after they’re used. Another handy traveling tip is to keep digital copies of your boarding passes or other tickets on your phone. They are easy to access that way and then you can immediately delete them after the trip so that you won’t have to worry about the paper copies getting into the wrong hands while you are traveling.
Taking reasonable precautions while on vacation won’t just keep your identity safer this summer, it’ll also give you peace of mind, so you can focus on enjoying time with family and friends.