In spite of the weak and unstable economy, more than one hundred million Americans have travelled to various destinations this summer – most of them to top destinations – to revitalize, creating a high season for ID theft from vacant homes, says security guru Alan Wlasuk of 403 Web Security. “Whilst you’re away for the vacation, identity thieves are on the prowl for crucial personal data everywhere from your unsecured wireless networks right to your mail box.”
Alan also noted that more than ten million American citizens became victims of ID theft in the year 2011 alone, 13% more than in 2010. However, with a few steps, you can avoid being part of the statistic whilst you’re far away from your home having some good time.
Secure Your Credit
I’m sure that you don’t expect to be applying for loans when enjoying your vacation, so why not think of freezing your credit? Alan also recommends that every individual calls his or her bank and credit card companies to notifying them of their absence. This can also be done online, particularly if you have switched to electronic statements or maybe if you pay your bill using the online platform. Additionally, most credit card companies will send you email alerts when specific transactions happen, for example if there is a charge without the card being present, or maybe a charge beyond a particular dollar value. That way, if anyone tries to use your account number to charge up a storm in your absence, you can simply head them off right before they do more harm.
Make Sure That Your Mail is Not Lying Around
Apart from signaling thieves that you’re away, a stack of mail is a goldmine for ID thieves, who actually take advantage of pre-approved bank statements, and credit offers and even bills just to get anything and everything they need to rip you off! You can ask a close friend or even neighbor to regularly collect your mail, or better yet, request the U.S. Postal Service to hold your mail and deliver the amassed post after you get back from your vacation by simply submitting a hold request either online or at the nearest post office. A bonus: In case you don’t remember to take care of your mail right before leaving on your trip, you still have an opportunity to submit a hold request online whilst you’re on the road. But keep in mind that it will not go into effect immediately, so you should expect a couple of days’ worth of mail to still get through.
Ensure that the WIFI is Unplugged
An identity thief using a WiFi-enabled gadget like a smartphone or even a laptop can easily hack into your home network, particularly if you never bother to alter the factory settings. And if unfortunately you are like most people who use the same password almost everywhere from your online banking to your WiFi network, just know that once they’re in, they can easily get access to all of your vital financial accounts. Keep off hackers by simply password-protecting the computer in your home and always disabling your WiFi network when you’re away. The most effective and rather simple way is to unplug your modem or router (which will also help you save a few pennies in your monthly electric bill, too!). And if you actually don’t want it unplugged, consult with your equipment manufacturers to learn how you can make your WiFi network invisible.
Always Prune Your Files
Security specialist Alan Wlasuk strongly recommends shredding of any document lying around in your home that you really don’t need, and safeguarding the rest. A thief who gets into your files can easily walk out with much more than just the physical valuables in your house. If you are not sure whether you may use the document in future, just scan it and save it in a safe place.
This might also be the perfect time to contemplate getting a safe deposit box at a bank near you. It is without doubt a smart place to keep crucial documents and even valuables, and if you wish, you can lock up extra credit cards and bank statements before travelling.