Guest post from Frank Freels Jr. Volunteer State Bank
Summer Travel and Personal Protection
The summer months are upon us and so is the travel season. With it comes the unique and increased risk of identity theft, property theft, and financial fraud. Here are some quick tips to protect yourself and your property:
A huge mistake people make when traveling is to post pictures from where they are on various social media platforms. By doing so, you are advertising to the world that you’re not home and that your property is unprotected. If you want to let friends see your pictures, post them when you get back and make sure you comment that the pictures were from last week so that any would-be thief knows your home is occupied.
Make arrangements to either stop your mail and paper or have a trusted neighbor collect them for you daily. Having a pile of newspapers in your driveway or a stack of mail in your mailbox is a sure sign you’re not home and that your property is unprotected. Keep in mind, thieves these days are not only looking for property to steal, they’re looking for your bank statements, credit card bills and personal information such as your social security number. Besides, is there an easier place from which to take your personal financial information than an unlocked mailbox? Keep it empty.
Notify your credit card companies and your bank when you’re traveling so that your cards are not disabled embarrassingly while you’re at a restaurant somewhere. Credit card providers can sometimes see that a card is being used somewhere it is typically not. They may think it is stolen and disable it even though it is you use it. Let them know where you’ll be and when you expect to return. If it is then still used in or near the community you visited after you leave, you know someone has stolen your card number.
While on the road, protect your identity. Keep your personal information with you wherever you go. That means don’t leave your wallet in the hotel room or condo. Such units are easily accessed and leaving your wallet lying out is a sure way to have your identity stolen. Also, don’t leave such items in the car…another easy target.
Be aware of scams and thieves around you. Pick-pockets, scam artists and con men are scouring popular tourist sites to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers. Even though you’re on vacation, you can’t let your guard down so much that you put yourself at risk. Keep your valuables secure and front of you. Keep backpacks securely in your sight at all times. Someone I know had their cell phone stolen from a backpack while they were wearing it. These crooks are talented.
You go on vacation to relax so do so. But, with some awareness and a few easy steps, you can minimize the risk of traveling. Besides, what would ruin your vacation more than being taken advantage of while you’re away from home? Be smart and aware. Safe travels!
Frank Freels Jr.