As a financial professional, you are more aware than most of the importance of protecting yourself financially. But in the hustle and bustle of post-April 15 travel, it can be easy to let down your guard. Identity threats and scams often pop up to take advantage of us as we book travel, while we travel and while we’re away from our homes.
Here are some tips to help you protect your identity and your valuables while traveling this spring.
Before You Leave
- When booking reservations, including flights, car rentals and hotels, make sure you’re using a secure and reputable site. Triple A recommends that people only book travel through well-known sites they recognize or can find solid information about online. Any site that doesn’t have a secure checkout page (with the “https:” prefix and lock icon before the web address) should be avoided.
- Before leaving for your trip, secure your home against potential theft, identity-related or otherwise. Thieves will often target empty homes to steal valuables and personal information. While there’s no surefire way to prevent a break-in, there are simple steps you can take, such as ensuring all windows and doors are locked and setting timers for lights so that your home appears occupied while you’re away.
- Resist posting every intimate detail of your upcoming trip on social media. While your friends may enjoy it, it could lead to robbers taking advantage of an empty house. Instead, share photos of the fun you had after you’re safely back home.
- If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, suspend your newspaper and mail delivery to avoid the tell-tale signs of an empty house. You especially don’t want packages left in front of your door overnight—a sure sign that no one is home.
- Secure all sensitive documents including Social Security cards and birth certificates in a locked safe that’s hidden somewhere on your property. This is a good idea regardless of whether you’re on vacation. Then, even if a thief does gain access to your house, they are less likely to gain access to your identity.
While Out of Town
- Guard critical documents like driver’s licenses and passports in a safe place. This can be either a hotel room safe, behind the front desk, or hidden on your person, in a small fanny pack or a close-kept purse. Hotel room locks have been reported to be easy to hack, and are low-risk targets because of the number of strangers coming and going at all hours.
- Update your passwords and other security on mobile devices like phones, tablets and laptops.
- Use safe browsing habits when connected to public Wi-Fi or hotspots. On open connections, hackers could intercept the information you’re sending. If it’s absolutely necessary to login to your bank or credit card accounts while traveling, use a password protected connection or your phone’s data plan, rather than unsecured public Wi-Fi. If you are on your way to the home of a close friend or relative, try to wait until you arrive, and ask for their Wi-Fi password.
- Avoid using a card connected to your bank account when abroad. If a hacker uses a credit card skimmer to steal your information, they could empty your bank account. Credit cards, on the other hand, usually have fraud monitoring and fund replacement benefits that debit cards do not. Check your credit card agreements and protections before traveling to ensure that you’re using the best method for you.
- Use ATMs inside a bank or grocery store, not out on the street. Not only are you less likely to be accosted by robbers, it’s unlikely that a skimmer could be installed inside a bank without employees noticing.
The best defense against travel-related fraud is to stay vigilant, use common sense, and enroll in an identity theft protection plan.
AICPA partners with Identity Guard, so you can now cover your entire household for up to 60% off.1 Get credit monitoring and alerts that will inform you of certain activity that may indicate fraud on your accounts. At AICPA member rates, you can protect all the members of your household at the premier level for just $20. Then relax and enjoy the arrival of spring—you deserve it!
Learn more at www.identityguard.com/aicpa.
1Maximum savings based upon Identity Guard Premier Family package. Savings range from
40 - 57%.