STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) – Ken Chaplin, the senior vice president of Experian’s ProtectMyID, stopped by KCAL9 Monday to talk about identity theft detection and protection.
Here are 10 tips for travelers to keep in mind before they hit the road.
1. Keep a record. If your wallet and everything in it were suddenly missing, you’d need to know what you had lost. In a personal notebook you keep in a secure place at home, write down all of the information from the front and back of your credit, debit, driver’s license, medical insurance and other important cards. This will help you make the appropriate calls following a theft.
2. Limit your cards. Only carry what you need on a daily basis. Make sure your Social Security card is not in your wallet. If you have multiple credit cards, only carry the one you use most often. Don’t write PINs or passwords on the back of your credit or debit cards or on pieces of paper you keep in your wallet.
3. Be cautious when using public WiFi. When we travel, there are a lot of opportunities to use a public WiFi, but these networks can present greater risk to your information. Don’t ever shop, online bank, or do anything requiring the use of passwords over networks that are public. If you are staying at a hotel that uses its own WiFi network, make sure you are given a unique password to access the Internet. If in doubt, ask the hotel about their network security.
4. Be a little less social. We all share a lot of information on social networks these days, but do you really want to let 500 or more people know the exact dates of when you will be out of town? A good vacation tip is to take the pictures, remember the moments, and share them once you are back in town.
5. Remain vigilant. Before you officially go into vacation mode, make sure you are protecting your valuables. Only carry the cards you’ll need, and look into a travel wallet or pouch that allows you to carry your valuable close to your body. Read up on where you are going and research where crime occurs. Knowing where and where not to go during your vacation is another way to protect yourself.
If your wallet is lost or stolen, or you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft:
1. Make the calls. As soon as you’re certain your wallet or important cards are missing, call the issuers of your credit, debit, medical and driver’s license cards. Notify them of the situation and ask for a new account or identification number. Verify that your old numbers are no longer active. Even if your wallet is returned, you can’t know for certain that someone hasn’t written down your card numbers to use at a later time.
2. File a police report. If identity theft does result from a lost wallet or stolen wallet, a police report filed at the time of theft will establish credibility. Even if you are traveling, file a report with local law enforcement. Always ask for a copy of the report for your personal records. If you later need to contest fraudulent charges or activity on your accounts, you’ll already have the report on hand.
3. Contact the credit reporting agencies. A thief may find enough information in your wallet to open new accounts or simply use your existing cards to commit fraud. By placing fraud alerts with the three national credit bureaus, you can help prevent new accounts from being opened in your name without your express permission.
4. Watch your account statements and credit reports. Checking for the signs of identity theft is essential in the months following a lost wallet or stolen wallet. Carefully review each account statement. Look for purchases, transactions or services you didn’t authorize or receive. If you suspect fraud, call the number on your statement immediately. Reviewing your monthly statements will only identify fraud on your existing accounts. To identify new accounts fraudulently opened in your name, be sure to review your credit reports regularly, especially in the months following a lost wallet or stolen wallet.
5. Have a partner. Identity protection takes a lot of the work off your hands. We could all use a little help considering how often identity theft occurs. Consider enrolling in an identity theft protection product that gives you layered protection, like daily Internet Scan, identity theft resolution and alerts so you’re able to take action quickly.
To learn more about ProtectMyID, click here.