On the road again


Most of us have traveled at some point in our lives.  No matter where we go or how we get there, traveling is an opportunity for identity thieves to get your information.  With the holidays many people will hit the road, so I’m sharing some common sense tips to help you keep your personally identifying information safe.

 

Planes Trains and Automobiles

How do people get from place to place?  You use some form of transportation.  From hopping a plane to driving yourself, you need to take steps to keep your personal information safe

Leave it at home-Don’t take any personal information that you don’t need.  Don’t take your social security card or too many credit cards.  Lock these items up safely at home.

Keep your information on your person-Don’t pack personal documents in luggage you will check through.   Put it in your purse or carry on bag.

Never ever leave your carry on luggage unattended-Take it with you even if you are only going to ask a question at the ticket counter 10 feet away.  Airports, Bus terminals and train depots are high-traffic busy places and it only takes a second for someone to steal it.

Remember out of your sight or even out of reach is out of your control.  And you may have had a great conversation with that person your were sitting next to on the first leg of your journey but you don’t know them.  Don’t ask them to ‘Watch your bag for a second.”

If you are driving yourself, you still need to take precautions.  Lock your car whenever you are out of it and arm the alarm even if you just stop for gas.  If possible lock all luggage in the trunk.  Don’t leave anything in view inside your vehicle.

What a nice room

Some of us travel and stay with relatives or friends, if you are staying with family or friends remember that they may not be as security conscious as your are.  Keep your information safe!

If you are staying in a hotel, be very aware of the fact that strangers will be coming and going in and out of your room.  Hotel staff that you don’t know and  never see, will be coming in to clean and service the room.   Most hotel chains now offer in room safes-use it.  Keep all of your valuables and personal papers like your passport locked up!

Also be aware of your information when checking in or out.  If you must wait for your room to be prepared, the hotel will often hold your luggage until your room is ready.  Invest in a good luggage lock and keep your luggage locked.  If you must allow the hotel to store luggage, remove your sensitive documents before storing.

While you are away

Don’t forget about the security of your information at home while you are away.  Take common sense steps to safeguard your home while your are gone.

Stop delivery of newspapers, mail and anything you may have regularly shipped to your home.

Secure all personal information in your home before you leave.  Do not leave  sensitive mail or personal information laying around.  Put it in a safe or strongbox before you leave.

Use timers to turn lights, televisions and radios on and off while you are gone.

Let a trusted neighbor know that you will be gone.  Have them keep an eye on the place for you.  While you are stopping regularly scheduled deliveries, unexpected deliveries could still arrive.  This way packages do not sit at your door for days letting people know that you are not home.

Contact your local police department or sheriff’s office and see if they have a ‘House Watch’ program.  A house watch program is when officers regularly check your home.  In most cases the officer will get out of his vehicle and walk around your property to check that it is secured and there is no evidence of break ins.  If you sign up for a house watch program make sure that you have a local emergency contact that the police can contact if something is wrong.  Make sure that your emergency contact knows how to contact you.

Most of these tips are simply common sense crime prevention tips.  Remember that your information is the easiest thing in the world to steal and you may not even know it was stolen.  The only tools a thief needs is pen and paper to record your information, then they simply can walk away leaving your information right where you left it.

One more small tip that can be of major importance.  Make photocopies of everything in your wallet or purse.  This will help if your wallet or purse gets stolen.  You will know exactly what was in it and can give this information to the police when you file a report.

Remember that there is not way to completely eliminate your risk of identity theft, but you can do your part by lowering your risk and being prepared if you ever fall victim.  LegalShield can help you be prepared.

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