One of the great luxuries afforded by retirement is travel. The Serengeti wildlife, the delicious delicacies of Rome, the awe of Dubai, and the challenge of the Alps are all awaiting your exploration. You have quietly planned for these worldly experiences for years, by monitoring your savings and nest egg.
Before you go, grab your camera, sunscreen, and hiking shoes, but be wary of your hostel's WiFi. Travelers often find themselves victims of malicious identity crimes. Below, the Center outlines tips and easy actions to help keep your identity safe during your adventures.
Only pack the necessities for your trip. You won't need your Social Security card, bank statements, medical documents, or your checkbook while you're on the road. Storing these documents securely at homereduces the amount of personally identifying information you carry and limits the items that need to be replaced if your luggage goes missing or is stolen.
Make a copy of your passport.
Create a copy of your passport and keep it in a secure, alternative location to your original. Having a photocopy will be important if your passport is lost or stolen.
Use a safe.
Store valuables and important documents, including travel itineraries and boarding passes, in a hotel safe while you're out exploring. A hotel safe is not an ideal location, but it is safer than keeping them on your person. Never leave items unsecured in a hotel room.
Hold the mail.
Place a hold on your mail, or ask a trusted neighbor to collect it while you're jetsetting. If you plan to be away for a longer period, consider renting a post office box from your local post office. Be sure to shred all mail with secure information before you leave.
Check your bank statements.
Use a secure network to keep an eye on your financial accounts. The best time to check is at a trusted friend's home, or over your cell phone's data plan. Be sure to report any suspicious activity.
If you log in to a sensitive account on your phone, personal computer or a public computer, always be sure to log out when you are done. This will help keep unauthorized users from accessing your sensitive information if your technology is stolen or open to the public.
You should always delete your cookies and browsing history from a public computer.
Only use bank ATMs.
Card skimmers and fraudulent ATMs are easy tools for criminals to prey upon travelers. While bank ATMs can still be compromised, thieves are less likely to target them. Avoid using non-bank owned ATMs at gas stations, convenience stores, hotels, and other public places.
Create a new email account.
Consider creating and using an email account strictly for traveling. Create an account containing no sensitive information and communicate using only this account while traveling. Never check email over unsecured networks.
Be mindful of your connections.
The risk of exposing your sensitive online information, like passwords and logins, can occur anytime you use an unsecured WiFi or Internet connection while traveling. Avoid accessing your bank accounts, work email, and other secure accounts. Consider purchasing or downloading reputable software that encrypts your data.
Please note that "https" should begin the web addresses you visit. For example a URL should read: "https://identity.utexas.edu."
Be aware of your surroundings.
Be vigilant about your belongings and technology while traveling. Tourists are often easy targets for criminals. Keep a close eye on your suitcases, purses, and other luggage. When using a mobile phone or computer in public, watch for individuals trying to catch a glimpse of your sensitive information.
After a trip, remain vigilant.
Check your accounts for any strange or suspicious activity. Change your PIN and passwords. Read through all of your mail and make note if any expected mail is missing. Report any errors immediately.
Adopting these habits will help keep your identity safe during your adventures.
Funded by a partnership with the Texas Legislature, and powered by the Center for Identity, IDWise is a resource center for the public on identity theft, fraud, and privacy.