Protecting your identity during summer travel

  • Published
  • By Nicholas M. Zallas
  • Antiterrorism officer
As the installation antiterrorism officer, I want to pass on some helpful tips for protecting your identity while travelling. I found an article on titled "Protecting your identity on the road." It contains some helpful tips.

People love to travel and experience new places but may learn a hard lesson if they fail to take some basic precautions in protecting their identities.

The following are a few basic rules of thumb for travelers contained in the article.

Alert your credit card providers you are travelling. Their fraud departments can stop any bogus charges if your accounts are used at someplace you're not visiting.

Clean out your wallet. Bring only an essential ID, such as a driver's license, and no more than two credit cards. Carry one on you and lock the other in your hotel room safe in case your wallet is stolen.

Carry a decoy. Besides your real wallet, carry a "throw away" wallet with a few dollars and some old hotel plastic key cards inside it. If you get held up, hand over the spare wallet and keep your real wallet.

The article also warns to be aware of "front desk fraudsters," or people calling your hotel room late at night when you're likely sleeping and off guard. The caller pretends to be a front desk clerk trying to resolve an issue with your credit card. It's a scam. Don't give them your credit card number.

Identity thieves wait for summer vacation, as well. They're looking to take unsuspecting travelers' information.

If you become a victim, don't panic. The article lists some steps you can take to recover.

File a police report and start making calls. If your wallet is stolen, call the issuers of your credit, debit and medical cards and your driver's license. Close your accounts and get new numbers. You may get your wallet back, but don't assume the thieves haven't noted your card numbers and personal information.

Monitor your account statements for the next several months. Be on the lookout for any small and large purchases or services you did not authorize.

Contact credit bureaus and review your credit reports. If your wallet is lost or stolen, monitor your credit reports to make sure new accounts have not been opened in your name.

The article also suggests that if you're going to be away for several months, consider putting a fraud alert on your credit report that tells lenders or service providers to take extra precautions before granting any credit in your name. It's free and if you notify any one of the three credit reporting bureaus -- Experian, Equifax or TransUnion -- they will notify the others.

An even more secure option, the author says, is requesting a credit freeze that effectively puts your credit history off limits to everyone -- including thieves. There may be a fee from each credit reporting bureau to enact the freeze, and you'll need to actively remove it later, but it's a good investment and will give you some peace of mind while traveling.

Good luck and have a safe and secure vacation.