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How to protect your identity and finances while traveling

African-American tourists leaving on a trip

For most of us, travel is an exciting and eye-opening experience. Along the way on most any journey, we get to see new places, meet new people and chase new adventures.

But travel can also carry significant risks — especially when we’re venturing abroad. That’s because when many of us travel, especially internationally, we tend to carry more valuables along with us than usual. Among the most vulnerable and valuable assets thieves can steal (often without us even knowing for quite some time that it’s been compromised): our identity.

By taking certain precautions before, during, and after a trip, though, we can significantly lower the risks of our identity being stolen and our financial wellness being sabotaged. Wondering how to prevent identity theft while traveling? Read on for some helpful travel safety tips that can help you protect yourself and your family from identity fraud while traveling.

How to reduce possible identity theft before your trip

Before you ever fuel up the car, set foot in an airport, or board a train, you can take a number of steps to reduce the risk of your identity being stolen. In fact, most of them can be accomplished before you even pack your bags.

Consider taking these pre-trip steps to lower your potential for exposure to ID theft while away:

  • Purge your purse or wallet. By carrying only the essentials on your trip — such as your passport, driver’s license, insurance cards, and any credit or debit cards you’ll actually use on the trip — you can lower the chances of a thief gaining access to your identifying information.
  • Alert your bank and/or credit card providers to your travel. Banks and card issuers are constantly keeping an eye out for suspicious charges, and international charges are likely to look unusual. By providing them notice of any international travel, you can lower the chances of charges being declined or your card being locked because they suspect fraud.
  • Check your credit report. Doing so will give you a baseline for where your credit information stood before taking your trip. To get yours, visit and make a free request.
  • Place a hold on your mail. By stopping deliveries for up to 30 days while you’re away, you can prevent mail from piling up in your mailbox and packages from accumulating by your door — both potential signs to thieves that you’re away.
  • Consider getting identity theft protection. Typically charging a monthly fee for the service, companies such as Identity Guard, LifeLock and Aura will continually monitor your financial accounts and identity-related data, then alert you to any suspicious activity detected.
  • Pay your bills before leaving. By ensuring before departure that any regular bills are paid in full or set up for autopay, you can eliminate the need to log in to any sites that could expose your personal and financial details while traveling — giving ID thieves one less opportunity to access such compromising information.
  • Update your devices with the latest software. Software companies are constantly updating their operating systems to protect against any evolving vulnerabilities. By updating your devices at home before you leave, you can both ensure that you have the most up-to-date protections installed, plus avoid the need to use any unknown (and possibly nonsecure) connections to perform any new updates.
  • Limit the information you put on your luggage tags. By putting just your last name and phone number on these tags, you’ll give anyone who may find any misplaced luggage enough information to reach you. Also, by leaving details such as your home address and email address off the tags, you’ll limit your potential exposure to ID theft or home burglary.

Need extra funds for your trip before you depart? Security Finance’s traditional installment loans can help you get the extra cash you need upfront, then pay off the balance through a series of fixed monthly payments when you return — helping ensure you’ve got all the funds you need to enjoy your vacation.

Steps to keep your identity safe while traveling

By taking these precautions while traveling, you can help ensure that your identity and finances stay safer while away — and reduce the likelihood of any trip-ruining surprises:

  • Be careful what you share on social media. Sharing travel photos and other travel details while you’re away could alert potential thieves that you’re away from home.
  • Limit your use of public Wi-Fi. Public networks are often easier for thieves to hack than others, and you can never be sure what kinds of security protection have been put in place on them. If you do need to use public Wi-Fi, try to avoid sharing any financial details or personal information while doing so — it’s much safer to do things such as paying bills and accessing financial accounts using a cellular connection.
  • Be careful with your boarding passes. If found by thieves, these documents can enable thieves to get your full name and your travel plans. Keep them close at hand while traveling, and be sure to tear them up as much as possible before discarding them, for example, in a hotel room trash can.
  • When possible, avoid putting valuables and personal documents in your checked luggage. By keeping these as close as possible — rather than out of sight and out of your control — you can help ensure that they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Put valuables in your hotel room safe while away. Headed to the pool to relax for the day. Avoid leaving your passport, cash, credit cards etc. just sitting out in the room. By keeping these items in the room safe, you’ll lower the risk that they’ll be stolen.
  • Back up important documents. Consider taking photos of critical items such as your passport and credit cards with your smartphone, so that you’ve got backup copies if any of them were to be lost or stolen — and so that you’ve got easy access to the phone numbers and account numbers needed to report the loss if they go missing. (Of course, be sure to protect your smartphone and your online accounts with hard-to-crack passcodes or passwords, which can help reduce the risk of unauthorized access.)
  • Be wary of using ATMs in remote, off-bank locations. Remotely placed ATMs and ones that are not connected to major banks are easier for scammers to equip with skimmers that can be used to steal your financial information. 
  • Be skeptical of any requests for personal information. As when you’re at home, always be leery of any requests for personal or financial information. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a vendor and asking for your credit card information, for example, let the caller know that you’ll call back. After hanging up, you can verify the phone number/business’s legitimacy before returning the call and providing any personal or financial details.

What to do if your identity is stolen while traveling

If you suspect that your or any family member’s financial and/or personal details have been compromised while you’re on your trip, consider taking any of the following steps that may be appropriate/applicable:

  • If your credit and/or debit card is lost, stolen or compromised, contact the card issuer as soon as possible. 
  • For a lost or stolen passport, contact the nearest U.S. embassy for guidance and help with your next steps.
  • Also, you may want to consider placing a security freeze on your credit, which will prevent any thieves from being able to access your credit, open new accounts, etc. until you remove the freeze.

What to do to keep your finances secure after you return

When you’re back from your trip, be sure to check your credit reports, bank accounts, and other financial accounts for any activity you may not recognize — and report any suspicious activity right away. Once you’re back home is also a better time to share photos, videos, and stories from your trip on social media (without giving away too many details about your travel habits, schedule, and wealth, all of which could catch the attention of a would-be thief). Further, if you did use public Wi-Fi connections while away (or even if you didn’t), it’s never a bad idea to update your online usernames and passwords — especially for any accounts you may have accessed while away.

At Security Finance, we offer a range of personal installment loans to help keep you covered over your next vacation. They can be secured quickly (usually within a single day) and with more flexible options than those typically found at a bank — all without the need for a bank account or a high credit score. Further, our installment loans follow set terms and offer affordable monthly payment plans, with no balloon payments or prepayment penalties.

Visit today to learn more about all of our loan options — and to find the one that’s right for you.