It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Memorial Day and that people will start leaving for summer vacations soon. Please take appropriate precautions both before you leave and while you’re on your vacation to reduce your risk of fraud and identity theft.

Before you leave:

  1. Clean out your wallet.
    • Use traveler’s checks or credit cards for payment. Leave your checkbook at home.
    • Leave your debit card(s) at home. Under federal law, your liability is limited if your credit card is misused. If your debit card is stolen, you could lose all the money in your checking account.
    • Take an ATM card that does not have debit card privileges. Your bank should be able to issue you an "ATM only" card.
    • Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
    • Leave any unneeded credit cards and any other unnecessary documents at home.
  2. Photocopy your wallet and keep the copy in a safe place. If your wallet is stolen, the copies will tell you who to call to get your cards canceled. Note: If you will be gone for a long time, consider leaving a copy with someone you trust who can help you cancel the cards while you’re still on the road.
  3. Stop your newspaper delivery and have the Post Office hold your mail (or ask a trusted neighbor to collect them for you). The bills and account statements in your unlocked mailbox are a goldmine for an identity thief. And the packages and newspapers piling up on your front step are a sure sign to a burglar that you are away.

While on your vacation:

  • Don’t leave your wallet, passport or any identifying documents in your hotel room unattended. Use the hotel safe if it’s available.
  • Keep your identity document (passport or drivers license) separate from your wallet. Carry a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport in a third pocket whenever traveling abroad.
  • Guard your credit card receipts and rental car agreements, especially if they contain your full credit card number or driver’s license number.
  • Use ATMs at banks or credit unions and which are in well-lit areas.
  • If you are taking your laptop with you, be very careful when using it for on-line banking and other password-protected services, especially if you are connecting to a wireless hotspot.
  • Be equally cautious of cyber-cafes and other public-access internet facilities. Anyone could have left a keystroke logger on the machine in order to capture your ID and password.

By the way, there will be no InfoSec Tip next week. Have a safe holiday.

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