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Fraud Alerts

Traveling Tips to Protect Your Identity and Credit
Thursday, November 1, 2012

With holiday travel quickly approaching, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office encourages you to practice “Anti-Hacking Packing” by following these simple tips that just may reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

1. Online Purchasing: Many of you will use the computer to purchase airline tickets, theme park tickets or rent a condo or cabin online. You can bet that cyber net criminals will be working hard this holiday season to obtain your personal information and your cash, so make sure the websites you use to book your vacation are legitimate and security protected. If you are renting a vacation spot you found online and are unfamiliar with the area it is located in, do your homework first and be very leery if you are asked to “wire transfer” money.

2. Weed out Your Wallet: Take only essential identifiers, like your driver’s license and just two credit cards. One credit card can be carried with you, and the other locked in a hotel room safe just in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Never carry your social security card and if you must carry your Medicare card, make a copy of it and block out all numbers except the last four.

3. Notify Your Credit Card Company: A simple phone call to your credit card company letting them know you will be traveling is a good idea. You might want to consider putting a spending limit on your cards, and if you plan on extended travel, you should ask about a credit freeze. This denies access to your credit history so identity thieves can’t open accounts in your name while you’re away, and it does not stop you from using your credit card.

4. Use ATMs Wisely: Debit cards are best left at home, but if you need cash withdrawals, ATMs in bank lobbies are less vulnerable to devices that thieves use to capture your card information. Remember, debit cards are directly tied to you bank account…..if someone gets your card number, your cash could be wiped out.

5. Be Careful with Hotel Computers: NEVER access financial data on hotel or other public computers or on public Wi-Fi networks (airports, coffee shops, etc.). You never know what identity-stealing software is at work.

6. Beware of “front desk” fraudsters. A late night phone call to your room from a “clerk” saying your credit card number is needed again may be a ruse by an identity thief. Ignore the request and call the front desk yourself.

Sometimes even despite our best efforts to protect ourselves and our wallets the unsuspecting criminal may just be one step ahead, however, education is key to prevention. To arrange to have someone come out to your community to talk about this or another safety or security topic please contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Community Relations Section at (239) 477-1400. Media inquiries can call (239) 477-1037.