Summer vacations can be very expensive, especially if you travel without a budget. Many summer travelers let their financial guards down during vacations, and identity thieves have begun to notice.
In fact, as many as 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year, and the summer time is peak "hunting season" for thieves, reports the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
"The summer vacation season remains a close second to the winter holiday season as being one of the most lucrative times for ID thieves to strike an unsuspecting consumer," says Jim Stickley, co-founder of TraceSecurity, in a press release.
If you and your family plan to travel this summer, here are TraceSecurity's top ten tips to help you protect your identity:
1. Bring Travelers checks. Leave personal checks at home.
2. Only bring the credit cards you intend to use and never use your debit card as a credit card while traveling.
3. Write down the phone numbers of the credit cards you're using in case you lose them or they're stolen.
4. Limit your exposure by removing anything from your wallet or purse that you won't need while on vacation.
5. Use hotel registered Wi-Fi or land lines and don't access websites that contain your personal financial data or other confidential information.
6. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use traveler's checks when possible.
7. Exchange currency before you travel.
8. If you're using an ATM, use machines located inside, not outside, of a building.
9. Keep all of your receipts from your vacation.
10. When you return home from your trip, be sure to review all banking and credit card statements thoroughly.
If you think your identity was stolen during your summer vacation, call your credit card companies and bank immediately. The FTC recommends ID theft victims file a complaint to your financial institutions over the phone and in writing.
For more advice on preventing identity theft, visit Military.com's Finance Center.