Will you travel this holiday season? The Center for Disease Control warns that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. But TSA numbers show that nearly a million people flowed through America's airports on the Saturday before Thanksgiving alone. While that’s more than a 50 percent decrease from the same day last year, the data proves that many of us are still on the move.
If you do decide on a trip, the coronavirus isn’t the only threat to consider. Even in normal times, travel is linked to a higher risk of identity theft — and this year, record-breaking pandemic-related fraud means the risk is even greater.
We recommend these practical tips to shrink the odds you’ll be scammed while you’re away. If you’re an Allstate Identity Protection member and something does come up during your trip, our Identity Specialists will be on hand to help manage your recovery and restore your identity. Think of best-in-class customer care as their gift to you — before, during, and after the holiday season.
#1 Make sure your place looks lived-in while you’re gone
Packages and papers accumulating on the front porch can signal to thieves that nobody’s home. Before you leave, consider putting mail on a postal hold, setting lights on a timer, and pausing delivery of the morning paper. If you can, ask a friend to stop by each day to remove advertising fliers and anything else that piles up on the stoop in your absence.
#2 Leave sensitive items at home
Before you pack your bags, clean out your wallet. Your Social Security card and any bank cards you don’t use regularly should stay in a safe place at home. Then consider whether you’ll really need your smartphone, tablet, and laptop. Leave behind devices you don’t need to minimize your risk of exposure.
#3 Be mindful about social media
If you’re tempted to document your travels on Instagram, remember this: posting from the road is like telling the internet that you’re not home. Bad actors can use this knowledge to gain access to your physical address or swipe other assets — like your identity.
If you still want to share about your trip, avoid posting in real-time and opt for a #latergram once you’re back at home. For added protection, you can also sign up for our social media monitoring: we can keep tabs on social accounts for everyone in the family, and alert you of suspected account takeover and known hacker activity. To get started:
- Visit the portal and click the ‘Social Monitoring’ tab
- Connect your social accounts for monitoring
#4 Safeguard your devices
If your smartphone is lost or stolen while you’re on the go, it may be annoying and expensive to replace. But losing the personal data stored inside — from passwords to PII — can lead to much bigger headaches.
So much of our lives happen online. Consider the details you’d need to keep things running if your phone got swiped. You can store encrypted back-ups of your data in a secure cloud or offline location so you’ll have that information within reach even if your device goes missing.
What’s more, when your phone winds up in the wrong hands, your privacy is at risk. If you are a member, our Dark Web Monitoring tool can help. Once you add important information to the tool, we’ll alert you if we find your information somewhere it shouldn’t be, like on a hacker forum. Here’s how to opt in:
- Visit the portal and click the ‘Dark Web Monitoring’ tab
- Enter your credentials, such as web log-ins and credit card numbers
- From there, bots and human operatives will scan the dark web for your details; we’ll notify you if we detect suspicious activity
- Under the ‘Dark Web Monitoring’ tab, you can also sign up for lost wallet protection, which can be particularly helpful if you lose your physical wallet while traveling
#5 Take care with rental cars
It’s handy to pair your smartphone and rental car for hands-free use. But this may add your contacts, playlists, and other personal content to the car’s system, which can lead to unwanted exposure of your information. When you return the rental, take care to unpair your phone and delete any data that’s been shared.
#6 Be wary of shared computers and public Wi-Fi
Airport and hotel business centers are convenient, but sadly, some public computers have malware designed to capture your activity. Public wi-fi networks pose risks, too: others on the same connection may be able to access your information. To protect yourself while traveling, keep your software updated and use encrypted internet connections whenever possible. A virtual private network (VPN) is probably the safest bet.
We’re only a phone call away — even on holidays
Even the best practices can’t offer complete protection against identity theft, and there’s no predicting when fraud will happen to you. Personal details that were leaked in a past data breach could surface as identity theft months or even years later. That’s why an identity protection service like ours is so essential.
We’ll alert you right away if we detect suspicious activity on one of your linked accounts so you can take action immediately and prevent possible theft. If you need further assistance, you can always reach out to our Customer Care team. They’re on call around the clock, during the holiday season and beyond.