Traveling can be very exciting for millions of Americans who want to get away whether it's for a few days or even a week or two. Before they do so, though, it's very important that they make sure they are protected from the prospect of identity theft that can leave them and their finances extremely vulnerable.
Even consumers who are typically very careful about the ways in which their finances are handled when they're at home may be a little more lax when they travel — after all, they're on vacation — but the fact of the matter is that this is a time to be more careful about them, not less. For this reason, these people should take a number of basic steps both before and during their trip to make sure their finances are fully protected and their otherwise good credit scores do not end up being harmed as a result of an avoidable mistake.
What to do before going
The first step consumers should take with respect to their finances before they leave for a trip is to let their lenders and banks know where they're going. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but with credit and debit card fraud becoming so prevalent these days, many financial institutions may see transactions in a faraway city and move to cancel the cards without notice out of fear that they've been stolen or otherwise compromised. This can, in turn, leave borrowers in a tough spot to pay even the most basic bills when they're without other options. In addition, it might be wise for consumers to do a little routine checking of their other accounts to make sure everything is as it should be, and to guarantee that they know where they stand. The reason why may be important later.
It might also be wise to remove a reasonable amount of cash from a checking account at this time as well, to serve as an emergency fund in the event that a card is lost or stolen (or accidentally canceled) so as to avoid the potential fallout of not having any other cards to lean on when traveling abroad.
Consumers may also want to consider leaving most of the contents of their wallets or purses at home, and only bring along the things they absolutely need, such as a driver's license to get on the plane and one or two payment cards. This can help to reduce the clutter they face, as well as the risk of some sort of identity theft or other fraud befalling them.
Actions to take when on a trip
Of course, things can be a little hectic for many borrowers when they're on vacation, particularly if they're dealing with family matters that include looking after excited children. And it's during this time that it's more likely credit and debit cards will be lost or stolen, which in turn can wreak havoc on consumers' finances not only during their trips, but after them as well. The reason for this is that in many cases, consumers might not notice their card is missing for a few hours or even a day, and during that time, criminals may be able to rack up significant charges or quickly drain an account. And because many borrowers might not be able to keep close tabs on their account balances while they're traveling, they might not be aware of just how much damage has been done.
For this reason, borrowers should do all in their power to make sure they contact the companies that issued lost or stolen cards as soon as the problem is discovered. Doing so can allow them to make sure they don't run into too many issues going forward, and potentially ensure that those that have already occurred are taken care of as quickly as possible.
Finally, it's also vital that borrowers be careful to secure any identifying documents they may be carrying with them and make sure they haven't come up missing. Regularly checking that credit or debit cards and driver's licenses are where they should be is vital.
When getting back
Because it's possible that some cards or other documents may have gone missing for a short time and then been returned, or could have had their information taken without actually being stolen, it's also vital that consumers order copies of their credit reports after they arrive back at home, because this may help them to identify whether any accounts were opened in their names but without their knowledge.
In fact, borrowers should regularly order copies of their credit reports regardless of whether they've traveled to ensure that everything is as it should be, and that no unfair markings are dragging down their scores without cause. If any such entries are discovered, working with a credit repair law firm may be a wise choice.