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Vacation is a time to relax and forget about stress—and the last thing you want to do is worry about protecting your identity from fraudsters. Unfortunately, leaving home can expose you to unknown threats, so it's important to make sure you know how to protect yourself while traveling.
Beyond the core identity protection tips for travelers—like leaving personal documents at home, holding your home mail delivery and avoiding public Wi-Fi networks—here are more strategies and tools that vacation-goers can use to protect their home and identities while traveling.
1. Get an Easy-to-Install Home Security System
Technology has made protecting your home easy and affordable. Newer companies like Nest and Ring sell do-it-yourself security systems that homeowners can install on their own and monitor directly from their mobile devices. Most of these systems have an initial upfront cost along with a monthly fee, and each has several functions that can be used both while you're at home and while you're away.
The best part about these companies is that they give users the option of customizing the type of protection or monitoring they want. Nest, for example, sells thermostats and smoke alarms, as well as video cameras and automated doorbells. Depending on your needs, companies like this allow you to pick and choose the features you install, and they often charge significantly less in monthly fees than other home security systems.
Beyond just protecting your property while you're away, these automated tools let you control your home—allowing you to facilitate certain tasks remotely. If you are expecting a delivery, or need to unlock your door for a family member, these systems make that easy to do right from your mobile device.
2. Have a Backup Plan for Lost or Stolen Devices
Vacations can get hectic, and if you lose your phone or wallet, it's crucial that you have a backup option. In today's world, having a backup is easy if you're bringing a laptop, tablet and smartphone with you on vacation. Consider syncing all of your devices, and make sure to enable any tracking capabilities you have available so you can try to recover your lost device if you lose it while on your trip.
This also goes for setting up mobile payment options like Apple Pay or Google Pay. If you lose your wallet while traveling but still need to pay for things on your trip, having these payment options ready can be a lifesaver.
3. Know Your Credit Cards' Lost-Card Policies
The good thing about traveling with credit cards is that if you happen to lose one, you may be able to get a replacement card expedited to your location. Policies for replacement cards may vary depending on the card issuer, and you can call your bank for more information about their rules for replacing lost cards.
In the chance you lose your wallet, also remember to contact your bank and credit card issuers to let them know that your cards are missing. They will shut off your accounts immediately and can flag any fraudulent purchases that were made if your cards slipped into the wrong hands.
4. Consider an Identity-Monitoring Service
Monitoring the safety of your identity doesn't stop at making sure no one steals your wallet or devices. There are many ways fraudsters can get their hands on your personal information, and it's important to stay alert and monitor your credit file to make sure no one is trying to use your information to open new accounts.
Experian IdentityWorksSM offers identity monitoring and can alert you when someone accesses your personal information and tries to open an account in your name. Other benefits of Experian's identity protection plans include free dark web scans, lost wallet assistance and identity monitoring for your children.
5. Don't Announce Your Vacation Details on Social Media
Be careful when posting details of your vacation plans on social media. When you announce online that you and your family will be gone for two weeks, you expose your home to potential theft. Unless you have some sort of home security system, or really vigilant neighbors, posts with details like this are like a free invitation for burglars to come over and steal your belongings.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.