Planning a trip? Don’t get tripped up by property or identity theft while you’re out

June is the beginning of summer and the kids are out of school. It’s a great opportunity to take the family on a trip and make some memories. Unfortunately, it’s also an opportunity for thieves to catch you when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Better Business Bureau advises you to keep your guard up when you head out-of-town this summer.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), summer is typically the season with the highest number of home burglaries, with more than half (53 percent) happening during the day. With an estimated 136 million Americans going on at least one vacation this summer, safety and security precautions are a must–not just for your home, but for your identity as well.

Avoid a theft-related travel disaster with the following BBB tips:

  1. Don’t announce your travel plans. Burglars can use posts on Twitter or Facebook to find when you’ll be away. More than one-third (35 percent) of Americans polled in ADT’s Safety Data Index survey said they believed their home is too ordinary and would not interest a burglar, but a vacant home could be enough to attract unwanted attention, so be careful about broadcasting your travel plans.
  1. Make your home a deterrent. Overflowing mailboxes and stacked newspapers on a porch can ring a dinner bell for criminals. Put a temporary hold on your mail during your vacation. Also, keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed so burglars don’t have a place to hide.
  1. Protect your identity. Leave your laptop computer, important documents and any other personal information locked away in a secret spot in your home while you travel. If you are traveling with a laptop or smartphone, update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and don’t access bank account or other personal information through unsecured wi-fi while in a hotel room or other public place.
  1. Limit disclosing personal information. Tear up and discard used boarding passes. They often contain full names and other personal information. Keep all your receipts and bills in one, safe place. Also, try using the same credit card for all trip purchases so you can better keep track of spending and limit getting ripped off. You can dispute charges with your credit card company if you later find there is an unauthorized charge.
  1. Protect your smartphone. While traveling, make sure you have a password for access, and use an application with a GPS locator to find your phone if it is lost or stolen.

If you want to relax on vacation, make sure your vacation planning includes securing both your home and your personal information while you are gone. If you choose to contract with a security company, check out their BBB Business Review first at bbb.org.

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