The Federal Trade Commission reported over a quarter million customers were affected by identity theft in 2010. The explosive growth in quality and access to smart phones and social media means that many people are far more exposed than they think they are.
Many travel insurance companies include identity theft recovery services with their plans. These services can help you restore your credit, deactivate and replace lost or stolen cards and passports, and work with you to file loss reports with the local authorities.
Of course, prevention is the first best defense, so it’s important to take a quick refresher course on identity theft protection strategies.
Here are the current best tips:
- Use credit cards, not debit cards, for travel. Credit card charges can be disputed and reversed, but unauthorized use of your debit card taps into your cash back home.
- Do not give your credit card number over the phone at the hotel – even to a hotel employee. If necessary, visit the front desk and confirm the request.
- Block your use of any automated teller machine (ATM) and watch for anyone taking your picture with a mobile device or digital camera.
- Leave your social security card back home – locked in a safe, preferably.
- Leave your check book behind as well.
- Use the hotel safe to store your travel documents when you don’t need them.
For additional information on how to protect your identity on the road and at home, see Protecting your Identity when you Travel.