How to Securely go on Vacation

March 8, 2019 | Dan Colt

Photo of a woman traveling ona train in Germany on vacation and checking her laptop.

There’s a lot to do in preparation for travel, and one of those things should be protecting your bank accounts and your personal information. Below are some dos and don’ts from Mission Federal Credit Union to help you travel securely and keep your information out of harm’s way.

What to do

Travel requires paying for certain necessities. Carrying the right things with you ensures you have what you need, without needlessly endangering your personal information and accounts.

Here’s what you do want to carry:

  • Cash: Cash is almost always accepted, and doesn’t provide any information. However, cash is at risk of getting lost or stolen and cannot be replaced, so just carry about $50.
  • Debit card: A debit allows you to spend money in your checking account like you might spend cash, but with some security assurances. Still, a debit card isn’t as safe as credit.
  • Credit card: A credit card is a great travel option. If you lose your card or someone gets your account information, you shouldn’t be responsible for fraudulent charges.
  • Phone numbers for your bank and loved ones: If you do lose items—particularly your phone—you’ll still be able to make the necessary calls.

Take additional security measures before traveling to protect yourself. Here’s what to do:

  • Tell your bank you’re traveling: This helps ensure your bank won’t freeze your account because of unusual charges, but it also helps them identify fraud after you return home.
  • Bring cards with smart chips: These cards are more likely to be accepted outside of the United States, but they’re also more secure than magnetic strip cards.
  • Secure your electronics: If you do any banking on your phone, tablet or laptop and will be bringing those along, make sure your security settings and passwords are strong and up to date. Also log out of any social media, financial or email apps.

What not to do

There are some things you’ll want to avoid to protect your information and minimize the likelihood of identity theft or fraud.

Here’s what you don’t want to carry with you:

  • Checkbook: Your checkbook contains everything a thief needs to access your bank account and steal your identity, including your address, phone number and account and routing numbers. Leave it at home.
  • Social security card or birth certificate: This is an identity thief’s golden ticket to your information. Never carry these with you.
  • PIN numbers, passwords or account numbers: Keep these memorized and physical copies under lock and key.

You’ll also want to avoid certain behaviors while traveling:

  • Using public computers or Wi-Fi connections: Avoid public access for any personal accounts. If possible, use a VPN to help maintain security.
  • Leaving anything unattended: Keep a close eye on your wallet, bags and electronic devices at all times to ensure nothing is taken or accessed without your knowledge.

Once you’re home, review your bank and credit card statements to check for suspicious activity, and keep travel dates in mind when you review your credit report each year. Travel security awareness is essential to keeping your information safe.

Mission Fed members can rest assured that financial safety and security are important to us. Our IT department regularly ensures our security protocols and software are dependable and up-to-date. If you’re planning a trip, contact Mission Fed anytime for additional security tips and to find out more about how to safeguard your information when you travel. We want you to have a great, and safe, trip. At Mission Fed, your success is our bottom line.

The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. References to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name in this article by Mission Federal Credit Union is for the information and convenience of its readers and does not constitute endorsement, control or warranty by Mission Federal Credit Union.

Dan Colt

Dan Colt

Dan Colt is VP Technology Management at Mission Federal Credit Union. He has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology industry, including numerous aspects such as security, data processing, disaster recovery and project management.

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