I am a checklist person; always have been, always will be. Possibly one of my most important lists is my vacation checklist. Actually, it is more like several tiny checklists within one large, master checklist. I have a checklist I use for packing clothes, a list for packing equipment (whether it be copious amounts of sunscreen for a beach vacation, or a translation dictionary for my travels abroad), and a checklist of priorities to complete before my departure.
The last list includes making sure that I have a neighbor getting my mail, ensuring that I’ve made reservations for my pets to stay with friends while I’m gone, and making sure that my financial institutions know that I will be traveling. There is nothing worse than being on vacation and having to deal with a security issue regarding your debit or credit card — it pays to plan ahead.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have a post-road trip check list: make sure everyone get their laundry together to wash, properly put away vacation equipment, and making sure your identity was not stolen while you were traveling. I know, it sounds dramatic, but identity theft is the fasting growing crime in many nations. In 2013, more than 9.9 million Americans became victims to identity theft, costing them five billion dollars.
In my short adult life, I’ve had two instances where I went out of town, for vacation, and came home to find that someone else had gained access to my personal information; one occurred a decade ago, and the other was just last month.
Back in 2004, I was flying from Kiev, Ukraine, to the United States; however, I had a layover in Amsterdam. It was a lengthy layover, so I got a hotel room for the night. I got up the next morning, and when I went to check in with security, I couldn’t find my passport. Long story short, I was permitted to get on the plane, but I never saw my passport again.
A few months later, I applied for a much needed loan and was denied. I pulled my credit report to find that someone had used my passport as an id, and accrued thousands of dollars in unpaid hospital bills under my name! It took months to correct, and in the meantime, I was unable to get the loan that I desperately needed.
Last month, a week or two after traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, my debit card was declined for a $10 pizza. I assumed it was an error on the person swiping my card, so I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until another unsuccessful attempt to use my card that I found out that there was a real problem. I called up my local bank, and they told me that they had deactivated my card due to “suspicious activity.” This activity included buying train tickets and a handbag from a store in London, among many other unfortunate purchases against my account.
It just goes to show you, a person never knows when their private information will be taken and used. That’s why I always suggest that families check their credit, especially after lengthy vacations. When I’m checking my credit, I visit a website to get my credit rating. Better safe, than sorry!