Summertime often means vacation time. It’s a happy, fun time of year – but it’s also a time when you really need to go the extra mile to protect yourself from identity theft.

Here are some common sense pointers you can follow as we get closer to summer to make sure that you keep your identity your own:

1. Never leave your purse or wallet unattended.

2. Memorize all PIN numbers and passwords so that you don’t have to carry them with you. Also, be aware of your surroundings whenever using an ATM or during any other PIN entry situation, so that you can avoid being taken advantage of.

3. Don’t carry extra credit cards, Social Security cards or other identifying information that you don’t immediately need in your wallet unless absolutely necessary.

4. Don’t bring frivolous documentation with you. Talk with a travel professional before you leave and find out what you will and won’t need to bring with you. Only pack the paperwork that you’ll definitely need.

5. Make two photocopies of all important paper documentation and keep them in separate areas of your luggage.

6. Before you leave, contact your post office and local newspaper (if necessary) and have your mail stopped. You don’t want mail or newspapers to pile up while you’re away.

7. Keep a list of the credit cards and personal documentation you’ve brought with you (Be sure not to list account numbers!) and store it in a safe place wherever you’re staying. That way, if something goes wrong, you have a quick inventory to refer to.

8. If you discover that some of your personal information is missing, contact the authorities, credit card companies, etc., as soon as possible.

Most of all, help yourself avoid identity theft by following your instincts. Always be aware of your surroundings and never give criminals the opportunity to take advantage of you. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll find that this year’s vacation will truly be a happy one!


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