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Bottom Line Up Front

  • During and after your trip, keep tabs on any changes to 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.
     

Many of us are excited about traveling again—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 take steps to protect your identity.

Defend Your Documents

We often travel with a passport, driver’s license, credit/debit cards, insurance information or even a birth certificate. Getting hold 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 put them in different places. If you feel in danger, yell out, because sticky-fingered criminals get squeamish around attention-drawing targets.

Don’t Use Shared and Unsecured Internet Connections

The hotel in New York, the café in France, the bus touting free Wi-Fi—just say no. Why? Because public connections are often open and unsecured. That means your information could be intercepted, 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 other

Only conduct these types of activities on a secure network that you trust.

Here are some more things you should know. Websites with “https://” at the beginning of their URLs can help add some security. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates data is encrypted. The tool HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that may encrypt your 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:

Be Hyper-Aware 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 and PINs. Others loiter nearby to catch you unaware to steal your money and information. To protect yourself:

  1. Choose a financial institution ATM rather than generic ones. They’ll be more likely to be monitored and have safeguards against criminals.
  2. Use your hand to shield the keypad from view. This can help prevent prying eyes and hidden cameras from seeing your PIN.
  3. Change your passwords and PIN before going on a trip and then change them back when you get home.
  4. 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 to your accounts. This includes reviewing your bank activity and statements, as well as your email and social media accounts.

Protecting 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 you can 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.

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 article 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.