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8 steps to take if your identity is stolen on vacation 

What we'll cover

  • Signs that your identity may have been stolen

  • Steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft

  • Ways to prevent identity theft while traveling 

Whether you dream of snow-capped mountains or sandy beaches, no one’s ideal vacation includes identity theft. But being on the go can open you up to vulnerabilities. Follow these tips to help prevent attacks and lock down your potentially compromised accounts.

Know the signs

Identity theft usually involves personal information being stolen. With this intel, cybercriminals can try to access accounts, travel reservations and other private data. Paying attention to unusual notifications or transactions can help you detect potential identity theft. 

Steps to take if your identity has been stolen

Once you realize you may be a victim of identity theft, take the following steps as soon as possible to minimize the damage.

1. File a claim with your identity theft insurance

If you have an identity protection service, give them a call. As identity theft experts, they can guide you and provide additional resources and advice.

2. File a police report

Once you’ve made your claim, file a report with local police and keep a copy for your records. Although the authorities may not be able to help immediately, the report creates a paper trail that could be useful in the future.

By staying aware and knowing what steps to take, you can act quickly and get back to your break.

3. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission , or FTC, is a government agency that compiles information on identity theft cases. While it can’t press criminal charges, law enforcement agencies may use FTC data to track down identity thieves.

4. Freeze your credit

A credit freeze will prevent fraudulent loans and new credit cards from being opened in your name. It also cuts off access to your credit report and your credit bureau information. You’ll need to contact each bureau (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) individually to request a credit freeze, but the process is free and you can unfreeze them at any time.

5. Contact your banks and credit card companies

Notify all of your bank and credit card companies, not just the ones where you noticed suspicious activity. You can also proactively reach out to other agencies to prevent further fraudulent use of your information.

If your account is taken over, your credit or debit card may be compromised — but thieves may not have stolen your personal information. Closing your accounts and opening new ones separates you from a stolen account. 

Tip: If you used a compromised card to book travel, contact the vendors before canceling to confirm your accommodations.

6. Change passwords and tighten security on your accounts

Review and update passwords on any accounts that may contain sensitive information like your bank, retirement and credit card account numbers. Watch for alerts about password resets, unrecognized transactions and login notifications to help you track down the leak. 

Strengthen your security by deleting personal information from social media accounts and other websites and enabling two-factor authentication.

7. Review your credit reports and transactions

You’re legally entitled to at least one free report from each credit agency every year. Check your credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by visiting . Scan your report for suspicious accounts, and after you’ve returned from vacation, keep an eye out for any other red flags. Once your personal information has been stolen, it can be circulated and sold — a vigilant eye and cybersecurity best practices can help you spot breaches in the future. 

After you scan your credit reports, look at all of your financial accounts and transaction statements for unusual charges. If you find any, call the credit card company or financial institution to report them and request a freeze, hold or closure.

8. Set up a mail hold

It’s a good practice to set up a mail hold when you’re traveling for an extended period. If you haven’t yet, contact the United States Postal Service, or USPS. After a thief gains access to your accounts, they can reroute your mail with new card and account numbers — temporarily pausing your mail can help prevent additional headaches. 

How to prevent identity theft while traveling

Because you’re spending in new locations, traveling presents unique opportunities for identity fraud. For extra protection, consider:

  • Credit monitoring or identity theft protection

  • Practice good cyber hygiene , like avoiding public Wi-Fi

  • Only using an encrypted cellular connection

  • Lock your essential documents in a safe

  • Be cautious with digital payment apps

Keep calm and carry on

Your vacation should be spent relaxing, not untangling the impact of identity theft. By staying aware and knowing what steps to take, you can act quickly and get back to your break. 

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