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ID Theft – Five Tips for Vacation Protection

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Holiday travel brings various levels of challenge and stress. Don’t let identity theft risk add to your anxiety.

Here are five tips to help you to avoid becoming a victim while on vacation:

1. Stop your mail and newspaper. Avoid letting un-invited credit invitations sit in your mail box. You can stop your mail by phone or online at usps.com. Also, ask a trusted neighbor to watch for package & parcel deliveries and to hang on to them until you return. If you receive a daily newspaper, put your subscription on hold. A pile of un-retrieved newspapers in your driveway is a “Welcome” sign to thieves.

2. Don’t advertise that you’re on vacation. Make sure if you are going to post vacation updates on your e-mail, on social networking websites, or on your voice mail greeting, that you post generically, no specifics. Put a few lights on timers so that your home doesn’t look unoccupied for the entire time you’re gone. Replace the front porch light bulb.

3. Enroll in a protection product that safeguards your most valuable asset, your identity. You may think you have all your bases covered, but it can be harder than you think, especially once you need to recover from a theft. One way to make sure you’re protected is by using a product that monitors if you are vulnerable to having your identity stolen. A number of quality service providers offer alerts via text or email of potentially suspicious activity as well as resolution assistance to help you cut through the red tape should you need it.

4. Leave your checkbook & debit card at home. If you don’t want to use cash or credit cards, purchase traveler’s checks instead of bringing your checkbook or debit card. A stolen checkbook has your bank account number and routing number on the checks – valuable tools a thief can use to steal your identity or clean out your bank account. Traveler’s checks require a signature when you purchase them, and then another when you use them at a store or restaurant on your travels. And, usually a photo ID is required when you use them. A thief that steals them will find them much harder to use. A debit card is essentially an immediate cash transaction.

5. Give your credit card company a heads up. This is especially important if you are traveling internationally, because any activity that happens domestically will raise a red flag. If you don’t let them know, they may become concerned when they see overseas transactions and freeze your card, potentially ruining your holiday.

A good measure of common sense and basic precaution can go a long way to protect you and your family.  Taking some of these simple steps can give you the peace of mind you deserve during your hard-earned vacation. Travel safely (and securely)!

John Sileo is an award-winning author and speaks worldwide on the dark art of deception (identity theft, social media privacy, data breach) and it’s polar opposite, the powerful use of trust to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply results and increase positive impact by building a culture of deep trust. His satisfied clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, Homeland Security, Experian UK and Blue Cross. Contact him on 800.258.8076, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or view his work on YouTube.

Avoid Spring Break Travel Scams

Here comes Spring Break! And the scams that go along with travel and vacations, whether you are a student or just taking some time off. 

Picture this: you find a great deal online for a vacation package and are counting the days till you take off for some fun in the sun. The day finally arrives and you show up at the airport, bags packed and ready to take flight. But when you reach the ticket counter, you learn that you have no flights booked… you’ve been scammed!

It happens ALL THE TIME, and scammers are getting more and more convincing. Scams rise during any busy travel season, but there are ways to avoid becoming a victim. Here are some tips on how to prevent travel scams and make sure that you get to enjoy a great Spring break trip.

  • Verify the business you are booking your trip through. If you are going to use a travel agency or online booking company, make sure they are legitimate first. Go online and do your research – if people have been scammed before by the company, the internet is the first place they will go to vent. You can even ask the company for referrals so you can check up on some satisfied customers.
  • Read everything carefully before you sign. Sometimes there are hidden fees or clauses where they can  change the airport you are flying into or out of without telling you – even up to 100 miles away!  Make sure you know the airline and hotel before signing. This way you can verify their legitimacy. Feel free to contact them and make sure that this is a great deal.
  • Always pay with a credit card. Good credit card companies allow you to dispute fraudulent charges so that you are not held liable for the money. If the company insists you pay with cash or check or money order, GO SOMEPLACE ELSE! Legitimate travel companies will let you use a credit card.
  • Make sure you get EVERYTHING in writing. If your great deal does turn out to be a scam, you will need something to show the credit card company in order to dispute the charges.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If they are offering you a flight to Mexico that is regularly $500 for $100, then chances are, it’s a scam. While there are great ways to book your hotel + flight + food + drink together to save money, most don’t offer an 80% discount!
  • Buy directly from the companies themselves (airline, hotel, transportation, tickets). Many times the actual companies guarantee the cheapest possible fare on their own website (United does this, for example). Even if it does cost you a bit more, you will sleep better at night knowing that your trip is booked and confirmed.
  • A lot of Mexico resorts offer all inclusive packages that are a great deal. You simply need to purchase your airfare. If you are booking it directly through the resort websites themselves, your chances of getting scammed drops immensely.
  • Don’t be afraid to try a website like TripAdvisor.com to do some background investigation.

Getting scammed definitely kills the vacation buzz! Getting scammed when you’re ready to have a great time with friends and family just plain sucks!  Follow these tips to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.

John Sileo will be delivering identity theft speeches during Spring Break. Luckily, he travels frequently with his family.