Your destination is selected, your itinerary is finalized, and your flights are booked. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, though. Financial security is an often overlooked part of planning a trip, but it’s even more important than ensuring you packed your favorite swimsuit. To help avoid fraud, identity theft, and cybercrime while traveling, take these five measures—brought to you by Mental Floss and Discover—before you leave home.
1. Research the scams that are common in the city you’re traveling to.
Educating yourself about the risks you may face in any given location is the smartest way to protect yourself. Maybe there are certain ATMs to avoid. Maybe there’s a specific travel agency or taxi company that’s known for ripping off travelers. A bit of online research before your trip can only help you stay better protected.
2. Be wary of property rental owners asking for an immediate down payment.
Home and apartment rentals are often cheaper than hotels, but they can be riskier, too. You may be asked to wire money in advance, only to find out upon arrival that the property is different than advertised, or was never available in the first place. Check the rental platform’s policies before paying up, and try to book with owners that have received positive reviews.
3. Make sure your phone is password or fingerprint-protected.
From banking passwords to payment apps to ride-share services, many people’s smartphones are teeming with valuable financial information. If your phone fell into the wrong hands, a cunning thief could easily go on a shopping spree—or worse, steal your identity. Delete any passwords saved in your notes or other insecure places, and be sure to set up a six-digit passcode or fingerprint, if you haven’t already. You can also download apps that will allow you to remotely wipe your phone of its data if it’s lost or stolen.
4. Take care of your online finances before heading to the airport.
If you need to pay bills, transfer money, check your balance, or do other forms of online banking, take care of that in advance from the comfort (and security) of your own home. When you use public Wi-Fi, you run the risk of logging onto a fraudulent network that is disguised to look like a reputable one. This can happen in a restaurant, at a tourist attraction, or even at your hotel.
5. Consider buying a wallet or money belt with RFID-blocking technology.
If your credit card has an RFID chip (they often have a radio wave symbol on them), then you may want to buy a wallet or money belt with RFID-blocking technology. They’ll protect your financial information from hackers who steal information from the cards with radio frequency devices—then sell that information or use it themselves to open new accounts or make bogus charges on your cards.
When looking to help protect your identity while traveling, look no further than Discover. With Discover Free Social Security number alerts, Discover is monitoring thousands of sites on the Dark Web and will alert you if your Social Security number is found—it’s free for cardmembers who sign up. Learn more at Discover.