Preventing Theft & Fraud While Traveling
I absolutely love to travel! Seeing new places, meeting people, tasting different foods, and experiencing new cultures is an essential element in my life. Given my line of work, I know that keeping my identity and accounts safe is also essential, especially when traveling. Identity thieves and fraudsters can be found across the globe, and we have to be prepared to avoid any potential trouble or inconveniences when we’re far from home.
A Few Helpful Tips To Consider While Traveling
Notify your financial institution when traveling
This is a must-do! By placing travel notes on your debit and credit card accounts, you will prevent potential headaches and uncomfortable situations. The more specific you are with dates and places the better!
Be sure to have multiple forms of payment method or access to funds.
Because we are in an ever increasing fraud environment, making sure that you have alternate forms of paying for your delicious foods, hotels, beverages, and fun activities is a wise idea.
Here are some options to consider:
Don’t carry too much, but be sure to have enough, just in case you get stranded. If you lose it, there is no recouping that cash back, so keep it modest. To me, this is the best form of payment for small merchants or locals selling food/souvenirs on the streets (or beach). I typically avoid using cards for these purchases, as these vendors are not always using compliant equipment, which can lead to easier access for fraudsters looking to capture your card information.
- Your debit card
A convenient way to have easy access to cash via ATM withdrawal while also acceptable as payment at most stores and restaurants.
- A Credit card (or two)
I say two, because if one experiences a fraud problem, you will have an alternative card to use. While my debit and credit cards both offer fraud protection and full liability, I still prefer to use a credit card when traveling abroad. If a fraud occurs, the money is coming from a line of credit and not directly from my personal checking or savings account.
- Travelers Checks
While safer than cash, they’re not accepted all places. Be sure to check in advance, so you don’t just rely on this old (though, still in use) payment method.If your card is lost or stolen, contact your Financial Institution immediately! This can be done via 24/7 call lines; if you have no access to a phone, but you do have access to a computer with internet connection- online banking would be the next best option. If stolen, filing a police report is recommended.
Taking at least two forms of identification is ideal.
Any government issued ID is preferred. If traveling abroad, it would be best to keep your passport in a safe location (such as the safe within your hotel room) and use your driver’s license or state issued ID on the day to day basis as you explore magnificent places. If traveling within continental U.S. and your ID is lost or stolen file a report with local police immediately. If you lose your ID/passport internationally notify the closest U.S. embassy. If you have reasons to believe your identity is compromised at any time notify credit bureau agencies and place a fraud alert or a freeze on your credit report.
A few additional considerations for travelers:
- If using a credit card to book a trip or rent cars, check out travel or rent insurances your card issuer may offer.
- Check your medical coverage with your insurance company. Especially if traveling abroad. Additional travel insurance may be an option to consider.
- Don’t forget your prescription medications. Taking more than needed for the days you are away in case you are stranded due to flight delays or other unpredictable matters.
- If checking in a bag, make sure to take valuables with you on your carryon bag. (including all forms of ID and payment)
- For International Travelers: Be sure to check your passport expiration date and ask a travel agent or search for minimum requirements from the countries you are traveling to. Some may require that your passport does not expire within 6 months. Some countries require US citizens to have a visa- check the process ahead of time as some visas can take a while to receive.
These are just a few of the things I consider each time I have the opportunity to head out and see new parts of the world. For more tips on protecting yourself from would-be thieves, check out all of the resources we’ve collected on our Identity Theft Prevention page. For ways to access your accounts where ever your travels take you, check out our Convenience Services page for details on our mobile and online banking platforms, as well as our nationwide ATM networks.
Now get out there and make some memories. Safe travels!