Traveling can be exciting, but it also comes with risks, such as identity theft. Vacationers are often more relaxed and less vigilant about their personal information, making them easy targets for thieves. However, with a few simple precautions, you can enjoy your trip without worrying about your personal information falling into the wrong hands. Here are essential tips to protect your identity while traveling and ensure a secure vacation.

1. Secure Your Personal Documents

Before you leave for your vacation, make sure to secure your personal documents. This includes your passport, driver’s license, and any other identification cards you may be carrying. Keep these documents in a secure location, such as a hotel safe or a locked suitcase. Avoid carrying unnecessary documents with you, and if you need to bring them, make sure to keep them hidden and out of sight. By taking these precautions, you can minimize the risk of your personal information being stolen while you’re traveling.

2. Use a VPN When Accessing Public Wi-Fi

When you’re traveling and need to connect to public Wi-Fi, it’s important to use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your identity. Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, making it easy for hackers to intercept your personal information. A VPN creates a secure connection between your device and the internet, encrypting your data and keeping it safe from prying eyes. By using a VPN, you can browse the internet, check your email, and access your online accounts without worrying about your personal information being stolen.

3. Be Cautious with Your Credit Cards

When traveling, it’s important to be cautious with your credit cards to protect your identity. Avoid using your credit card for purchases at unsecured or unfamiliar locations, as these may be more susceptible to skimming devices or fraudulent activity. Instead, opt for cash or use a secure payment method such as a mobile wallet or chip-enabled card. Additionally, regularly monitor your credit card statements and report any suspicious activity immediately to your credit card company. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy your vacation without the worry of identity theft.

4. Avoid Oversharing on Social Media

While it may be tempting to share every detail of your vacation on social media, it’s important to exercise caution. Oversharing can make you a target for identity theft, as criminals can use the information you post to piece together your personal details. Avoid posting your exact travel dates, location, or any other sensitive information that could be used to compromise your identity. Instead, wait until you return home to share your vacation memories. By being mindful of what you share online, you can help protect your identity while traveling.

5. Set Up a Mail Hold

If you’re going to be away from home for more than a few days, submit a mail hold to the U.S. Postal Service for up to 30 days. You can retrieve your mail once the hold has expired. A mail hold can keep bank statements, credit card bills, and other mail from being used to steal your identity. To hold your mail longer or to reroute your mail, sign up for the Postal Service’s forwarding service.

6. Don’t Bring Unneeded Documents and Cards

Travelers typically need to carry a driver’s license or identification card, travel credit cards, insurance cards, and possibly a passport. But you should leave behind your Social Security card, birth certificate, and other documents that have sensitive personal information. In other words, your wallet, purse, or backpack shouldn’t hold documents and cards that you may want to bring but don’t need to bring.

7. Be Careful at ATMs

For identity thieves, an ATM can be a money-making machine. For instance, they might install a skimming device or shimming device on an ATM to capture card numbers and PINs. To protect your card number and PIN at an ATM when you’re traveling:

  • Use a bank-operated ATM rather than a non-bank ATM. Non-bank ATMs, found at places like convenience stores, might not be as safe as those overseen by banks and other financial institutions.
  • Change your ATM passcode before and after your trip.
  • Use your hand to block the ATM keypad. This can help prevent a person or a hidden camera from seeing your PIN as you’re typing it.

8. Act Quickly if a Card Is Lost or Stolen

If your credit or debit card has been lost or stolen while traveling, report it right away to the card issuer. This may help prevent or minimize financial harm. You can contact the card issuer by looking for the customer service phone number on the card or finding it on the card issuer’s website or app. Federal law safeguards consumers against steep financial losses from a lost or stolen credit or debit card. In the case of a lost or stolen credit card, you might be responsible for as much as $50 in unauthorized charges (though many cards offer zero liability protection). For a lost or stolen debit card, your financial liability depends on how fast you report that the card went missing.

9. Consider an Identity Monitoring Service to protect your identity while traveling

Adding an identity monitoring service to your security toolkit could give you some peace of mind while you’re traveling. An identity monitoring service like the one offered by Defend-ID tracks personal information in credit applications, on websites, in public records, and in other places to spot possible signs of identity theft, and may also offer ID theft insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my identity is stolen while traveling?
  • Contact your providers: Reach out to all of your banks and credit card companies, not just the ones directly involved in the identity theft. You might be advised to close existing accounts and open new ones to help avoid problems.
  • Contact the authorities: File identity theft reports with a local law enforcement agency and the FTC.
  • Freeze your credit files: …with the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. A credit freeze severely limits access to your credit information. You can unfreeze your files at any time.
  • Review your recent transactions: Go through your bank and credit card accounts online to see whether any suspicious activity shows up. If it does, reach out to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible.
  • Monitor your credit report: Obtain your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. You can also get your reports from all three bureaus weekly at
  • Change online passwords: This is especially important for bank accounts and credit card accounts.

Should You Travel With Your Social Security Card?

You should never travel with your Social Security card. Instead, leave it at home in a safe place. In fact, the Social Security Administration advises not carrying your Social Security card with you at all, whether you’re traveling or not. Instead, share your card only when it’s required, which the federal agency says rarely happens.

Does Travel Insurance Cover Credit Card Theft?

Travel insurance might cover credit card theft. However, the coverage likely won’t include reimbursement for financial losses. Rather, a travel insurance company’s representatives can help you cancel credit cards, file a police report, and carry out other tasks associated with credit card theft.

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of identity theft while traveling and enjoy a secure vacation. Remember, while there is no foolproof way to prevent identity theft, taking these precautions can help you stay safe and protect your personal information.

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