How To Avoid Identity Theft When Traveling

Use these tips to prevent criminals from acquiring sensitive personal information while you're on the go.

By Navy Federal June 20, 2018

Are you a jetsetter? Road warrior? Someone looking to just make a getaway from the daily grind? Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure or both, protect yourself from identity (and financial) theft with the following tips.

  1. Set Up Travel Alerts

    Using your debit or credit card abroad with no notice to your financial institution could result in your account being frozen. Avoid this situation by letting your card issuer know where you’re traveling to, your departure date, your length of stay and if there are any layovers. You can easily set a Travel Notification online or through your mobile app* for your Navy Federal debit and credit cards.

  2. Defend Your Documents

    We often travel with our most important documents, including passport, driver’s license, credit and debit cards, insurance information and even occasionally a Social Security card or birth certificate. Pre-empt any pickpockets and keep your documents secured by wearing a neck or waist wallet underneath your shirt or hidden.

  3. Be Wary of Shared and Unsecured Internet Connections

    The hotel in New York, the café in France, the bus tour touting free Wi-Fi—all are hotbeds for identity theft. That’s because these connections are often open and unsecured, which means your information could be intercepted during transmission. Using websites with “https://” at the beginning of the address (rather than “http://”) can help add some security (the “s” stands for “secure” and indicates data transmitted is encrypted for greater protection). You can also download a plug-in through your browser to ensure the “s” is included in your web addresses, or sign up for a personal VPN (virtual private network), which encrypts your data automatically.

  4. Protect Your Phone

    You may be more worried about your phone being stolen than your wallet—and for good reason! You may have multiple email accounts linked to your mobile device, apps to your financial institutions and auto-logins for a slew of social media sites. Take steps to protect your identity in the event your phone is lost or stolen. These include setting a password on your phone, disabling auto-logins while you're traveling and setting up your smartphone's GPS location app that tracks a lost phone (like "Where's My Droid" or "Find My iPhone®"). Using secured connections applies to mobile devices, too.

  5. Be Hyper-Aware at ATMs

    If you need a little extra spending money during your travels, beware of cash machines that have been tampered with. Thieves can install card readers into ATMs to steal credit card numbers and PINs.

    To help prevent this:

    • Use a financial institution's ATM rather than generic ones (they'll be more likely to have safeguards against criminals).
    • 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.
    • If you'll be using a credit card encrypted with chip technology, set up a PIN with your financial institution before traveling.
  6. Keep an Eye Out for Suspicious Behavior During and After Your Trip

    Even if you monitor your information while on a trip, remember to keep close track of your financial accounts, email and social media once you return home. To avoid any lingering threats to your identity, review your bank activity and statements regularly and watch out for phishing emails that attempt to get you to click.

Visit Navy Federal’s Security Center to learn about other ways you can protect yourself, report fraud and keep your personal information secure.

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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.