6 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft When Traveling
Getting ready to travel? Our tips can help you prevent criminals from accessing your sensitive personal information while you’re on the go.
Bottom Line Up Front
- During and after your trip, keep tabs on any changes in your accounts.
- Don’t use shared or unsecured internet connections, especially for financial transactions.
- If you store financial info on your phone (e.g., banking app, Uber®, Venmo®, Door Dash®, Target®), set a password, engage GPS location and disable automatic logins in case your phone is lost or stolen.
Time to Read
September 30, 2022
Many of us are excited about traveling again—it’s a chance to see new places and experience new things. But whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, at home or abroad, it’s important to protect your identity. Try these 6 steps to keep you confident in your personal security.
Defend Your Documents
We often travel with a passport, driver’s license, credit/debit cards, insurance information or even a birth certificate. Getting ahold of any of these important documents are a pickpocket’s dream! One trick to thwart them is to wear a neck or waist wallet under your shirt and/or keep them in different places. If you feel like you’re in danger, yell out. Sticky-fingered criminals get squeamish around targets that draw attention.
Don’t Use Shared and Unsecured Internet Connections
The hotel in New York, the café in France, the bus with the free Wi-Fi—just say no. Why? Because public connections are often open and unsecured. That means your information could be vulnerable, increasing your risk of identity theft. If the network has been hacked, the criminals can see every single thing you do or send.
Never, ever use these connections for:
- conducting financial transactions
- updating account information
- anything that exposes personal and financial information to others
Only conduct these types of activities on a secure network that you trust.
Plus, here are some more things you should keep in mind. Websites with “https://” at the beginning of their URL can help add some security. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates that data is encrypted. The tool HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that may conceal your data communications on major websites. Another option is to sign up for a personal virtual private network (VPN). Costs vary, but you’ll generally pay less if you sign up for a longer period. Our research showed monthly fees that ranged between $2 and $10.
Protect Your Phone
You may be more worried about your phone being stolen than your wallet—and for good reason! Many of us have banking apps, access to emails and saved login information for a slew of websites.
Take steps to protect your identity by:
- setting a password on your phone
- disabling auto logins
- setting up a GPS location app that tracks a lost phone (e.g., Google Find My Device or Apple’s Find My)
Be Hyperaware at ATMs
If you need cash during your travels and you plan to use an ATM, be mindful of the ATM type and location. ATMs are a favorite target of criminals. Some install card skimmers to steal credit card numbers and PINs. Others loiter nearby to catch you unaware and steal your money and information.
To protect yourself, you could:
- choose a financial institution ATMs rather than generic ones. They’ll be more likely to be monitored and have safeguards against criminals.
- use your hand to shield the keypad from view. This can help prevent prying eyes and hidden cameras from seeing your PIN.
- change your passwords and PIN before going on a trip and then change them back when you get home.
- let your financial institution know when and where you’re traveling.
Check Your Accounts Often
During and after your trip, keep tabs on any changes in your accounts. This includes reviewing your bank activity and statements as well as your email and social media accounts.
Protect Your Information
We take account security very seriously at Navy Federal Credit Union. That’s why we regularly scan member accounts for unusual activity. We use state-of-the-art fraud prevention systems and offer a number of security features for your use. Plus, Navy Federal credit and debit cards are protected by our Zero Liability policy—you won’t lose a cent due to unauthorized charges. If you spot any signs of fraud or other security issues, don’t hesitate to contact us on our Report Fraud page.
- Before you head out on your travels, call your bank and let them know where and when you’ll be traveling. This will prevent your account from being frozen and helps the institution check your account for fraud when you get back.
- Make a pre-travel plan, including safeguards like downloading a GPS phone-tracking app or investing in neck/waist wallets where you can safely stash personal documents on the go.
- Make a to-do list for when you return from your trip, including resetting your passwords and PINs and checking up on your accounts frequently to ensure there were no data breaches.
UBER® is a trademark of Uber Technologies, Inc.
Venmo® is a registered trademark of PayPal, Inc.
DOORDASH® is a trademark of DOORDASH, INC.
TARGET® is a trademark of Target Brands, Inc.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.