Protect your Identity while Traveling

With nearly 90 percent of transactions taking place electronically these days, it is more important than ever to protect your identity. For many people, protecting their identity should involve never giving away personal information such as Social Security, bank account, and credit card numbers.    

When traveling, however, it seems that everyone wants this information in order to do anything from booking a plane ticket to exchanging money. This makes protecting your identity while traveling mush harder than it is while staying at home.

Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission, otherwise known as the FTC offers some important tips and advice to travelers who want to protect their identity.  The following suggestions come from their website.

First, always be aware of what will happen to your personal information before you provide it to anyone. If possible, read through the publicly posted privacy policy of any company you are purchasing services from while traveling. Since most people book things such as hotel rooms, airline tickets, and rental cars before they travel, this can often be done by reading the privacy policies on these companies’ websites.

Be sure that your information will not be sold to or shared with other companies or individuals before booking any travel. Note that in some cases, federal law states that certain types of travel companies (such as airlines) are required to provide information to the government.  In these cases, however, your vital information will only be viewed by law enforcement.

Next, be careful about what you post on the internet. Do not post details of your travel dates or locations of where you will be traveling on public websites. Even websites that only share your data with self-selected friends and family can be suspect, since 80 percent of all identity theft is perpetrated by someone the victim knows. By keeping these details private, you are preventing someone from pretending to be you to banks and other financial institutions while you are on your trip.

Do not carry all of your credit cards, and Social Security card in your wallet. Ideally, limit yourself to one or two credit cards while you travel, and leave your Social Security card at home. Keep documents like birth certificates and passports in a hotel safe whenever possible. Additionally, consider leaving an emergency credit card in the hotel safe as well. This way, if your wallet is stolen, you still have access to money and the documents you need to get home.  Immediately report and lost or stolen cards to your credit card company.