If you are like most people, you look forward to summer vacation with family and friends. Don’t let what should be a fun time of memories in the making turn into an opportunity for thieves. If you are planning a summer trip, read these tips:
Make Your Home Look Occupied
Ask a close neighbor or friend to visit your house to check on it during your vacation. Have them turn on lights and televisions throughout the home in different areas every couple of days. If there is any loose mail, have them bring it inside. Don’t forget to put a hold on your mail at your local post office because it’s a wealth of personal information. The post office makes it simple; you can even do it online at holdmail.usps.com/holdmail.
Do Not Travel with Social Security Cards
Keep social security cards at home, even if you travel outside the United States. A passport is sufficient. Along the same lines, do not carry anything with you containing your social security number. If you must carry something with your social security number on it, make a copy and black out the last four digits. Take the copy and leave the original at home.
Make Digital Copies of Personal Documents on an Encrypted USB Drive
Make digital copies of your passport, visa, license, health insurance card, credit/debit card (front and back), vacation itinerary, and any other important documents you may need on an encrypted USB drive or cloud. If your documents are lost or stolen, you will be able to prove your identity and call the appropriate numbers to get your identity authenticated, cards canceled, etc. If you have Hills Bank cards, print and save a digital copy of the Important Card Information brochure so you will have the appropriate phone numbers in case your cards are lost or stolen.
Do Not Log Into Personal Accounts through a Public Wi-Fi System
Do not log into online banking accounts, credit card accounts, email accounts, social media accounts, or anything else that requires an ID or password using a public WIFI system. Computer hackers often use public Wi-Fi to hack into your accounts with keystroke logging software to steal personal or financial information. Only go online through an encrypted Internet connection that is password protected.
Be Smart When Using Your Cards
If you need to withdraw cash at an ATM, try to use an ATM located at a bank location since they are less likely to have skimming devices installed and more likely to have security cameras. Another precaution is to pack a backup card and secure it in a hotel safe, so if one is lost or stolen, you will have a backup to pay for hotel rooms or other purchases. When using a debit card, keep in mind it is linked directly to your checking account, so it’s important to know what is leaving your account at every transaction. You can sign up for alerts through Hills Bank Online or mobile banking to receive a text message anytime there is a change in your account. Immediately contact Hills Bank’s lost or stolen debit card number (1-800-383-8000) if yours is lost or stolen so we can cancel the card and limit fraudulent transactions.
If Traveling Internationally
- Sign Up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
STEP is a free service provided by the US Government for US citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. Simply enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. Visit https://step.state.gov/step/ for more information or to enroll.
- Read 5 Travel Tips for Your Next Vacation Abroad
These tips will help protect your wallet, valuables, identity, and financial information while traveling.
If you have any other tips for traveling, we encourage you to share them with other Hills Helps readers in the comments below.