You've packed your bags, reserved your hotel and secured tickets to the big festival. You've printed out your boarding pass. You're ready for your big trip, right?
Not quite. Traveling is fun, but it can also result in identity theft while you're on the road if you don't take precautions. After all, you'll be giving your credit card or debit card information to waiters, cashiers and check-in personnel that you don't know. You'll also be in strange surroundings, which can make you more vulnerable.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent identity theft from ruining your vacation.
Before you leave
Taking the proper steps to protect your identity starts before you even leave your home. Start with canceling your mail delivery until you return. You don't want potential identity thieves to notice that your mailbox at home is overflowing. They might take the opportunity to break into your home. Just as bad, these criminals might pluck credit-card offers from that stuffed mailbox, using them to take out accounts in your name.
You should also make sure to leave your Social Security card at home, in a safe place such as a safety deposit box at your bank. You don't want to lose your Social Security card while on the road. Identity thieves would love to get possession of this card. They can do plenty of damages once it's in their possession.
Also, prune your wallet before you leave. Remove any identification cards or credit cards that you won't need. This way, if you lose your wallet on the road, thieves won't have quite as much information to use against you.
Finally, if your bank provides a service that enables you to turn your debit card on and off yourself, set this up before you leave. This will enable you to turn your card off quickly if it is lost or stolen. At Old National, this service is called Card Controls.
One final note, Old National like many banks, automatically monitors debit cards for suspicious activity. If we think your card is being used by someone other than you, we will contact you by text alert, email or phone and ask you to confirm the transaction(s). We recommend that you contact us prior to your trip to alert us of your travel plans, so your card activity in a new part of the country or overseas won't be flagged as suspicious.
What to do if disaster strikes
If the unthinkable should happen and your wallet is lost or stolen, don't delay in taking these steps.
If your debit card is stolen and you are able to do so, immediately turn it off.
Also, immediately call the issuers of any credit, debit or medical cards that were stolen. Your credit and debit card issuers can cancel those cards. The longer you wait, the more damage thieves can cause. Keeping printed copies of all your cards (including your drivers license) and information in a secure location can make reporting their loss easier.
You should also file a police report with local law enforcement officials. The report filing can help establish your credibility should the thieves who stole your wallet make fraudulent purchases with your credit cards.
Immediately contact the three national credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – to place fraud alerts on your credit report. These alerts might prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. As another option, you can actually freeze your credit before you leave too.
Once you return home from your trip (even if your wallet or cards weren't stolen), spend time studying your financial account statements for unexplained purchases. Careful checking is the best way to determine if someone is using your information to make unauthorized purchases in your name. If you do suspect fraud, make sure to call the customer service number on your account statement immediately.
You should also order copies of your three credit reports – one each from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Check for any new credit accounts that an identity thief might have opened in your name without your permission. You are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three bureaus. You can order these three reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you do notice any suspicious activity on your report, be sure to contact the credit bureaus immediately.
Traveling should be a fun experience. But identity theft can quickly ruin a dream vacation. Taking these steps can help ensure that your travel experiences are happy ones.
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