It’s vacation time! Opportunities abound for fun and relaxation, chilling out, exciting experiences and so many places to go and see. Perfect conditions for identity thieves. Not a good way to end your vacation! So how can you protect your identity and avoid all the hassles? Here’s some of the best advice that was found:
1) Do not announce your plans on social media. Thieves comb for that information and will target your house. (A good reason not to put your address on social media.)
2) Stop your mail and newspapers. Nothing advertises better that you’re not home than piles of them. A stuffed mailbox says “Here – take my personal information!” and the papers say “Please, come inside”.
3) Leave your computer at home. If you can’t, make sure it’s updated with the latest anti-spyware. Do not use public Wi-Fi for accessing financial information or leave your laptop unattended. Make sure you have a password for both your computer and your cell phone.
4) Remove unnecessary items from your wallet – do you really need that library card or receipt (or anything with personal information on it)? Bring only what you need – that should also go for your keys.
5) Check with the credit card companies about travel alerts and credit freezes (to prevent someone from opening an account in your name).
6) Use only bank ATMs – other places may have poor security. Protect your PIN from prying eyes!
7) Use only last name and phone number on luggage tags. Also shred or tear up boarding passes before discarding them – they contain personal information.
8) Put travel documents and your wallet in an inside pocket or a travel wallet under your clothes. Keep your purse close – don’t give those pick pockets a chance!
If your identity does get stolen, immediately call your credit card companies and the credit bureaus. And do not forget to call the I.R.S.! They have a department called Identity Protection Specialized Unit and you can contact them at 1-800-908-4490. In general, the I.R.S. does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information. If this happens, call IPSU. Also call them if you get a notice that doesn’t seem to pertain to you. Be vigilant!
Have a safe and secure vacation! Enjoy!