There's a reason travelers are so often targeted for theft and crime—they are distracted. Being smart and alert once you have arrived at your destination is important, but there are crucial steps to take before you leave town to protect your identity from being breached.
No. 1: Secure your mail. Having newspapers or mail piling up at your home is a dead giveaway that no one is there. Levin said to either have the post office hold your mail, or have a trusted friend or family member pick it up while you're away. "Theft of mail is still a wonderful source for identity thieves," he said. "Mail flowing out of a mailbox is a magnet." Also, set your lights on a timer to give the impression that someone is home.
No. 2: Contact your credit card company and bank. It is important for both to know where you are going and how long you will be away traveling. This way, banks and credit card companies will keep a closer watch on the transactions that occur during your trip. "They like exact dates so they can track them," Levin said. "If you're in Europe, or a location that's not your normal pattern, you may have them reject a transaction (if they aren't aware of your trip)," he said.
No. 3: Keep quiet. Social media is great for telling people all about your trip… after you get back. Levin said to keep the sharing to a minimum before taking off, because while friends and family may be glad to hear about your upcoming travel plans, so will potential burglars. "You are giving them a North Star to rob you," he said," leaving yourself and your home vulnerable."
No. 4: Write down important numbers. Before you leave, take a list of the phone numbers for your credit card company, bank, the DMV in your state and even a U.S. Embassy if you are going out of the country, Levin said. This way, if your wallet or cards are stolen, you can contact all the necessary agencies to let them know. "Also, make copies of important documents, especially the ones you are carrying with you," he said.
No. 5: Update your software. Many people travel with their laptops, and Levin suggests updating all anti-virus software, firewalls and malware protection before leaving. "Once you're there, don't leave it out of sight ," he said.