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Security tips when traveling

In today’s society many precautions are taken to stop identity theft. Have you thought about this same issue when traveling? Read on to learn some tips about security when traveling

A day in paradise can turn into a financial disaster if your identity is stolen on vacation or on a business trip.

It is hard enough to protect your identity from computer hacking and phishing attacks while at home. When traveling, it can be even more difficult to keep sensitive information secure. By not being careful, you may be unwittingly exposing yourself to unnecessary risks. Here are some actions you can take to limit the chances you’ll be targeted as well as how to address any loss.

Before you leave home some precautions to take would of course be to secure you home. It is recommended you start with the obvious things, such as locking all windows and doors, leaving radios and lights on, and also asking a friend or neighbor to help make your house look lived in while you’re away. This would include bringing in your trash cans off the street and even driving up your driveway to leave tire marks should your home get snow while you’re away.

Other ideas that may not be so obvious would be suspending your mail delivery. This is done easily enough through your local post office, in person or online. It is not recommended you suspend delivery of your newspaper or any other services, since entry-level employees would then be alerted to the fact that you’re out of town. Instead, ask a friend or neighbor to retrieve the newspaper each day.

Lock up sensitive documents, especially if anyone is accessing your home while you’re gone. Should someone abuse your trust or break into your home to steal from you, you may not know it until unauthorized charges start showing up on your accounts.

Make copies of your passport, medical cards and the credit cards you’re taking on your trip. Also don’t make exact copies; you should cut out the last four digits of your credit card numbers and the last four digits of your Social Security number if it’s on your medical card. Also, be sure to copy the back of your credit cards so you have the needed telephone numbers to cancel lost or stolen cards.

Prepay for cars, hotel rooms, etc. Make as many transactions from home rather than when you’re on the road, you’ll be better off. Less receipts to hand means less information can be stolen.

Bring only what you need. There is no reason to bring a wallet or purse that’s loaded down with extra credit cards and other sensitive information.

Instead you should clean out your wallet. Carry no more than a couple of credit cards and an ATM card. Most importantly do not carry your Social Security number. Do not carry your PIN along with your ATM card.

Leave checking-account and other financial information at home. Often, business travelers bring bills and other busywork from home to take advantage of downtime. But these left in the hotel room can and has caused financial disaster when stolen. Don’t take the risk.

Bring an ATM or stored-value card instead of a debit card. ATM cards require the use of a PIN to extract cash. Stored-value cards, such as the new American Express Travelers Cheque Card. American Express says it can replace the Travelers Cheque Card funds within 24-72 hours.

Now that you have made it to your destination, keep an eye on what you bring. No hotel room is truly secure. Securing valuables such as laptops and cameras in the room does not mean just leaving it in the room. Think about it, housekeeping and maintenance have access to your room. Perhaps even the front desk could err and give another person your room, thinking it was empty.

Instead, consider using hotel safes to store your valuables. This should include your wallet, passport, camera and even your lap top.

Label your valuables with contact information. There are still some honest people around and there’s a good chance that a misplaced item will be returned to you if there is a way for someone to contact you.

Keep your receipts. This will make it easier to flag any suspicious transactions when you return home. Upon your return, check your accounts to ensure all the transactions made are yours. If any are suspect, check against your receipts. This is a very fast way to tell if your accounts have been breached. Check your credit card account. Change passwords on your laptop if you did use any public computer terminals while in restaurants, hotel lobbies or other areas.

Also upon arriving home you may need some extra cash. It is known that nine out of ten Americans have unclaimed property. Log onto www.CashUnclaimed.com and find out if you have money waiting to be claimed.

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