The warm weather awakens a sense of adventure in all of us. After spending the winter indoors, it’s time to take a break and explore a new place. Before you hop on a plane or take off in your car, it’s important to take a few extra steps to safeguard your personal information.
When you’re in a new place, it’s not uncommon to be so captivated with the different sights and sounds that you let your guard down. This is your time to relax and leave your worries behind but it’s still important to keep your information safe while traveling.
Post on Social Later
It’s tempting to take your friends and family along on your travels by posting photos and status updates on your social media pages. But this is also an easy way for criminals to see that you’re not home. Unplug, take some great photos, enjoy your trip, and share your favorite stories from your adventure when you safely return home.
Talk to Us Before You Leave
This piece of advice totally contradicts what we just said above, but make sure that we know when you’re going out of town. Give us a call at 888.267.7200, send us an email, or chat with us in Online Banking at least a day before you leave. After hours, you can call our card monitoring service at 888.918.7313. We’ll fill out a travel request with the type of travel you’re doing (international or domestic), where you’re going, the exact dates you’ll be gone, and the best phone numbers to reach you at if we have any questions.
Doing this lets us know that we shouldn’t worry if we see transactions on your cards in different states or countries. Unless, of course, these transactions are outside your area of travel.
Hold the Mail
Between bills and credit card offers, you get a lot of personal information sent to your house. If a criminal sees a lot of mail piling up at your house, that’s a clear sign that you might not be home. Thieves could steal your mail and put you at risk for identity theft.
Place a stop hold on your mail with the post office or ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your mailbox. You can also protect your information by signing up for electronic bill notifications or E-Statements.
Clean Up Your Wallet
Leave your checks, any credit or debit cards you barely use, and your Social Security card locked up at home. Taking these items with you puts you at greater risk for losing them. No one wants to spend time trying to hunt down a missing checkbook when the beach is calling.
Make a copy of all the cards you’re taking with you and leave these copies at home in case you lose the cards. And remember to write down the lost/stolen phone numbers for the cards you’re taking. Keep these important phone numbers in a safe place so you can call quickly if one of your cards goes missing.
Look for ATM Skimmers
Not only do you want to watch out for foreign ATM fees, but you should keep an eye out for skimming devices when you use an ATM or card terminal. Criminals install skimmers on ATMs in an attempt to steal your card information and make fraudulent purchases using your card data. Areas with lots of tourists are prime targets for criminals because they can collect a lot of card data in a short amount of time.
Before you use an ATM or payment terminal (especially at outside terminals, like gas stations), tug on the card reader. If it’s loose or it falls off, don’t put your card in the machine and notify the store or institution. It’s also a good idea to cover the keypad with your hands when you enter your PIN.
Remember to keep your information safe while traveling just like you do when you’re at home. You deserve a break, so don’t let your vacation get spoiled by a few mistakes.