Safe travels: Seven steps to secure your financial information on the road

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Traveling—whether for business or pleasure—requires planning. You choose the clothes you’ll bring, map out itineraries for places to see and things to do, and arrange hotel accommodations. You rent a car, buy a subway pass, or book airline tickets.

While all those details are crucial, there’s another pre-travel to-do list item that’s important: remember to secure your financial information while you’re on the road to protect yourself from identity theft.

According to a 2018 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, “the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight percent (rising to 16.7 million U.S. consumers) in the last year”—a record high since Javelin began tracking identity fraud in 2003.

“the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight percent (rising to 16.7 million U.S. consumers) in the last year”.

Traveling inevitably opens you up to vulnerabilities—airport Wi-Fi hotspots, foreign ATMs, and more frequent transactions can make your financial information susceptible to the prying eyes of hackers. But with a few smart, proactive steps, you can help safeguard your finances and keep your information protected so you can enjoy the journey.

 

  1. Keep those electronic devices password protected and trackable. Any smartphones, laptops, or tablets you’ll use while traveling should be locked and only accessible with a unique password. In the event any of your devices get lost or stolen, tracking software or geo-location apps can help track down their whereabouts.
  2. De-clutter your wallet—bring only what you’ll use and leave the rest at home. Clear out any extra credit cards, identification beyond your driver’s license and/or passport, or personal information that you won’t need for your trip and keep it safe at home. It will help keep you organized and reduce the risk of accidentally leaving sensitive material in an unknown place.
  3. If possible, use credit cards for all travel expenses. It’s a lot easier to dispute (and settle) fraudulent credit than debit card charges. Credit cards have more secure legal protection and provide a buffer. For example, pending credit charges in question don’t impact the available funds in your bank account like debit charges do.
  4. Stick to bank-only ATMs. It’s always a good idea to have a little bit of cash on hand for emergencies. But be wary of foreign ATMs or machines that aren’t bank-affiliated. Try to find ATM locations for your home bank or another reputable institution before using your bank card to withdraw money. 
  5. Stash cash in more than one place. The caveat with cash is that if you lose it, it’s gone forever. Keep cash in a few different places when you travel—in the hotel safe, in your wallet, and hidden in your suitcase. That way, you have a contingency plan if you need cash fast.
  6. Scan important documents for safe keeping. If your driver’s license, passport, or credit card information goes missing, having a scanned copy of this information can save you a lot of time and trouble when you need to replace them. Scan or take photographs of anything you’d need to reference and email them yourself, or leave them with a trusted friend or family member who’s not on the trip.
  7. Stay in the know—set up fraud alerts. Unfortunately, fraud can happen despite all efforts to avoid it. Set up fraud alerts with your bank and credit card providers so you can be alerted to any fraudulent activity in real time and quickly manage it.

 

Safeguarding your financials can be easy with the right best practices. Check out more of Comenity’s financial resources to learn how you can protect yourself and take a smarter approach to financial management.

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