Save yourself from summer identity theft

Ruth to the Rescue has simple steps to protect yourself


During the summer you would like to focus on rest and relaxation, but you can't let your guard down when it comes to identity theft.

Identity thieves do not take the summer off, and they know your summer activities could give them the opening they need to get your personal information.

For example, when you pack your bags for your family vacation, you could be carrying too many personal documents. Consumer Reports recommends you leave things like your Social Security card at home.

It's advice one local mother said she's already following.

"I only bring one major credit card and my driver's license. Usually American Express so that I know I can have fraud protection. And I always make sure that there's a safe," said Kristin Saracevic.

If you're traveling abroad you'll need a passport and there are some simple steps you can take to protect that document as well. Creditcard.com suggests you remember the three R's when you travel.

1) Remove! As we just mentioned, don't take documents like your Social Security card and birth certificate on vacation. You don't want them falling into the wrong hands.

2) Record! Make copies of key documents (front and back) and keep them in a separate suitcase. If you lose your passport or credit cards, having those copies will help you get replacements more quickly. You can leave those copies in the hotel safe as well.

3) Recover! Be sure to contact your local police station if your cards are stolen or compromised to make sure you have a paper trail. Also, hang onto that police report, your bank or credit card may need copies later on.

Alert Credit Card Company About Travel

Before traveling you should also call your bank or credit card issuer before the trip to let them know you're traveling just in case a fishy purchase pops up so they won't flag the purchases.

Robin Riutta recently had a similar situation happen to her, fortunately she informed her credit card company where she would be and when she would be home. "Someone just recently had my husband's card, but luckily the credit card company called us and asked us a couple questions and we said absolutely not, it's not us."

Beware of Public WiFi

Another sneaky way scammers can steal your identity involves using fake WiFi networks. When you're checked into a hotel make sure you check the hotels authorized network. Never do personal business on a unsecured public WiFi.

"I think it's horrible, I think that in this day in age with technology the way it is that there should be something to be able protect what we're doing online," said Saracevic.

Fake Hotel Calls

Also, be on high alert if you get a call from the front desk asking for credit card information. The Federal Trade Commission warns if a hotel really has an issue with your card managers will ask you to come to the front desk and deal with the problem face to face. If you get a call from someone saying they are from the front desk, tell them you'll come to the front desk, and they follow up with management.

Protect Your Children's Identities Too!

Even your kids aren't safe from identity theft. The FTC warns parents to make sure your child's information is stored safely while they're away at camp or a summer program. When asked about keeping her children safe Saracevic had some solid advice.

"I would ask the questions. 'Where is this going? Do you lock this information up? What's your security system?' Because now you can never be too careful."

There's never a good time to take a break from protecting your personal information, but with these tips you can rest a little easier while relaxing at the beach.