I still remember clearly those simpler days long ago when we traveled, we bought traveler's cheques and thought our money was quite safe. These days, financial and digital identity thefts are on the rise. We must be vigilant about our ID's before, during and after our trips. The following are some tips to consider.
Before you leave:
1 Contact banks and credit card companies, so that they can monitor your accounts and detect any unusual activity on your cards while you are away.
2 Stop mail or have a neighbour collect your mail -- an overflowing mail box is a sign to say no one is at home. Your mail in the mail box may contain credit card numbers as well as personal information. Today's super-box mail boxes keep mail out of sight, but they get filled up quickly if not attended.
3 Clean out your wallet and/or purse, and leave contents that are not necessary for the trip at home. Some tourist destinations are particularly crowded and they are havens for pickpockets. Make copies of all of your important documents, such as your passport, driver’s license, and health insurance card, so you will have access to the information if your wallet is stolen. Leave the copies with a trusted family member or scan them into an encrypted file on your computer. Also keep a list of contact numbers for your credit card companies and banks with you, so it will be easy to call if your wallet is stolen or you have any trouble with your account.
4 Use RFID protection wallet, handbag or brief case -- Radio frequency identification chips are embedded in credit cards for efficiency of use, but the information on it is also easy to get stolen. RFID protection wallet should be used at all time to protect ID thefts whether you are traveling or at home.
5 Don't tell the world -- we are naturally excited with our upcoming trip. Be mindful of where you are when you are talking about your planned trip. You would be surprised how eagerly we tell our friendly grocery store cashiers while at the checkout, coworkers in the cafeteria at work, or neighbours on the streets..... sometimes it is difficult to know who is listening. Most importantly, be careful with what you post on social media. Do not announce that you are leaving for a extended trip. We do not want to let unscrupulous bystanders know that our house is empty for an extended period.
While you are on your trip:
6 While you are traveling, it is best to carry important documents on your person using a security belt. Even a carry-on bag is sometimes separated from you (e.g. it is stowed in the overhead compartment).
7 Do not leave ID information documents unattended in your hotel room. Use the hotel room safe by leaving excess cash, credit cards. Flight itinerary and hotel confirmation documents have your ID information.Keep them safe until you can shred them, even wait until you return home.
8 Use a bank-run ATM machine, preferably inside the building. Using a credit card is considered safer than using debit. If your card numbers ever get into the wrong hands, most credit card companies will quickly reverse or cover fraudulent charges.
9 Limit public Wi-Fi or computer use -- Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecure. Never access your financial accounts or any other sites that require a password when using public Wi-Fi or computer in the hotel lobby. If you must use an open (non-password-protected) network, immediately log out of banking, social media, and email accounts when finished with each session. Finally, delete all cookies and browsing history before you log off if you must use a public computer.
10 Keep your cell phone secure -- use screen-locking password at all time. Log out of all apps before going out and about. Make sure the apps are not allowed to share your location even when you are not using them.
11 Act fast -- if you lose any important documents, act fast. Report lost passport immediately to the nearest Embassy or Consulate; lost credit cards to the companies.
After your trip:
12 Change your pins and passwords after a trip, especially if you logged into any accounts while on the road or accessed an ATM.
13 Make sure you properly dispose of all trip confirmation emails and boarding passes.
Shred them before tossing them into the recycling bin, as they contain personally identifiable information.
14 Carefully check credit card and bank statements after your trip. Actually, this is a good habit to do so on a regular basis.
Identity protection efforts provide peace of mind. You would want to keep the good memories of your travels and adventure, not the aggravation of being a victim of preventable ID thefts.
References: If you would like to read more about ID theft prevention, there are many articles such as these and many others online.