Tips: Protect Your Identity While Traveling

Intersections Inc., a provider of consumer and corporate identity risk management services, advises leisure and business travelers to become more aware of their increased exposure on the road and to learn how to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft. According to the U.S. Bureau of Travel Statistics, Americans will take approximately 2.6 billion long distance trips this year.

"Whether you are traveling for business or going on a family vacation, being away from home increases your exposure to identity theft. Identity thieves are known to target unsuspecting tourists and even savvy business travelers," said Intersections CEO and founder, Michael Stanfield. "They also know that many of us have let our guard down. We developed these tips to remind fellow travelers that we all need to take simple precautionary measures to protect our identities."

Intersections recommends the following safety tips for travelers:

1. Protect your home from burglars and identity thieves before you leave. Have your mail collected or held at the Post Office, ideally have someone visit and turn lights on and off, and do not leave financial documents lying in plain view.

2. Try to avoid "tweeting" or blogging about your travel plans or talking about them on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Thieves may use this information to target empty homes.

3. Protect yourself from key loggers, hackers, spammers, and botnets by installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your laptop computer.

4. If browsing the Internet with a wireless connection, do not assume public "hot spots" are secure. Ensure you are using encryption to scramble communications over a network.

5. If you're staying at a hotel or motel and receive a call from the reception desk asking that you confirm a credit card number, tell them you'll provide the information at the front desk instead. The call could easily be a random one from outside the hotel.

6. Bring as few credit cards as possible and ideally carry just one with you and keep a backup card in the hotel safe. Bring a copy of the emergency contact numbers for your credit cards and bank accounts in case they're lost or stolen.

7. Beware of pickpockets -- remove all documentation and cards from your wallet or purse that you don't need during your travels.

8. Use cash or travelers checks wherever possible to minimize the risk of credit card fraud or overcharging (this can also help avoid costly exchange fees if you're traveling abroad).

9. Make a photocopy of the cards and documents in your wallet or purse, including credit and ATM cards, store cards, drivers' licenses, etc. Leave the copy with someone you trust so if your wallet or purse is stolen, you'll know what to cancel.

10. If you're leaving for an extended period and don't expect to be applying for new credit during that time, consider using a credit monitoring service to watch over your credit. Or consider placing a temporary freeze on your credit reports.

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