COLUMBUS, Ohio (December 18, 2018) – With a record number of travelers planning a year-end holiday trip, AAA encourages travelers to take steps to prevent identity thieves from stealing holiday joy.

“Identity theft has become common in today’s connected society,” said Ed Conley, director, Insurance Sales and Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “In extreme cases, identity theft can wreak havoc on a victim’s life for years to come. Prevention is always the best defense.”

Five Ways Travelers Can Safeguard Their Identity:

1. Thin your wallet: Pack only the necessary credit cards, and leave others at home in a safe location. Make sure you and your travel companions carry cards with different numbers on them. Then, if one is stolen, you have other cards to use that aren’t tied to that account.

2. Pack alternative payment methods: Travel experts recommend at least $100 cash per person, per day, split up in various hidden locations. Local currency is especially important when going to a foreign country, as it can be used for cab rides, tips and other small purchases.

In addition to cash, consider carrying a reloadable prepaid card. These have replaced travelers’ checks and enable consumers to carry money safely, with many of the same conveniences as a bank card. Because these cards aren’t tied to a bank account, thieves can’t steal personal information from them. If a card is lost or stolen, thieves only have access to what’s on the card, versus a large credit limit on a credit card. Consumers can also retrieve the money lost by calling the number located on the back of the card.

3. Protect your mobile device: Always use the auto-lock feature to protect personal information.

4. Use RFID blocking devices: Radio frequency identification (RFID) refers to technologies that use radio waves for identification. This includes credit cards and debit cards. Thieves can purchase RFID skimmers online, brush the device by someone’s purse or wallet and steal the information from the cards inside. These thieves will then overlay the victim’s information on any card with a magnetic strip and use it to make purchases. Any card with a magnetic strip is susceptible to this type of crime.

Consumers can protect themselves by purchasing RFID blocking devices. These are simply wallets, purses, or other containers that prevent radio frequencies from penetrating and reaching the cards.

5. Monitor accounts: Make a list of the account numbers and customer service phone numbers for the credit cards and prepaid travel cards you’ve packed. Keep them in a secure location, away from the cards, so you can access them easily and call immediately if a card is lost or stolen.

“Should the worst happen, and your identity is compromised, having identity theft coverage on your auto or home policy can help,” said Conley. “While coverage won’t proactively prevent identity theft, it may ease the burden of going through the recovery process.”

For more information on AAA Financial Services, visit AAA.com/FinancialServices.

AAA provides more than 59 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.