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Be Wise With Money

Traveling Soon? 7 Easy Tips To Protect Your Identity

There’s more to your membership – guard against financial fraud.

You’re on a trip, ready to relax and have some fun. Suddenly, your smartphone buzzes and you receive a text that your banking information may be compromised. Your heart begins to race. You check your pockets – you still have your wallet. How did they get your information? Did you take steps to protect your identity beforehand?

As many as 17.6 Million U.S. residents experienced identity theft, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report published in 20151. Forty-five percent of victims discovered the incident when their financial institution notified them about suspicious activity. Eighteen percent only learned when they noticed fraudulent charges on an account. Two-thirds of victims reported a direct financial loss. How would you handle such a situation?

Safeguard your financial well-being when away from home

The good news: you can take steps to protect yourself from identity theft when you travel. Here are seven ways to safeguard your financial wellbeing when you’re away from home:

  1. Clean out your wallet or purse. A lost or stolen billfold or credit card case carries a treasure trove of information for potential thieves. Credit cards you don’t often use, membership cards for places back home and old receipts should all be cleaned out before your trip.
  2. Inspect ATMs before use. Look for signs of electronic tampering around the card scanner and keypad before you make a withdrawal.
  3. Avoid public networks. Public computers and unsecured Wi-Fi connections are a haven for hackers to access data on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you’re working while traveling, use a VPN (virtual private network) to protect your online sessions.
  4. Lock up your valuables – including documents. It goes without saying that jewelry, cash and other valuables should be secured, but your passport and travel documents are also in need of protection. When walking around during your travels, carry a color copy of your passport with you if possible, but leave the original in the safe in your hotel room.
  5. Hold your mail and notify your banks. The U.S. Post Office will hold your home mail delivery for up to 30 days, if requested. It’s free and you don’t even need to stop in to a branch – you can do it now, online. It’s also a good idea to give your financial institutions a heads-up and let them know your travel dates and destinations, so your charges aren’t flagged or declined as possible fraud.
  6. Watch your credit with ProtectMyID. As a member benefit, Thrivent offers two types of identity monitoring for free or at a significant discount. You’ll receive text alerts if your identity is stolen. The plans are provided by Experian® ProtectMyID®, a leading full-service provider of identity theft monitoring, detection and fraud resolution.
  7. Use both cash and cards. Carry a combination of cash (including locally accepted currency if travelling abroad) and credit cards. Plastic is generally acceptable at places that use secure payment at the checkout (e.g., well-known chains, retailers, airports and hotels). But if you become suspicious, you can always use cash in a pinch.

Back at home and worry free, right?

Not so fast. You may still be at risk for identity theft. Review your credit card and banking statements when you return home for the period during your trip as well as several months after. Confirm all charges are accurate and made by you or your family members. Report anything suspicious to your financial institutions immediately.

Another way to protect your identity is to be a good steward of your credit file in the first place. Some best practices include, reviewing your credit record and changing your passwords regularly. You also should know how to place a fraud alert on your credit file, if needed. To learn how, and for more tips, view Thrivent’s Identity Theft Protection resources.

Pack your bags, but protect your identity

When you’re travelling, don’t forget to take care of the most important thing you’ll take with you: your identity. Enroll in Thrivent’s Identity Monitoring benefit and learn other ways your Thrivent member benefits can help protect what matters most.

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