Financial and Personal Safety Tips for Docs on Summer Vaca

June 14, 2016
Ike Devji, JD

As physicians and their families get ready to enjoy summer, a few basic safety tips will help keep you, your property and your assets safe.

In our last discussion, we covered some basic risk management  for the “hundred deadliest days” and provided specific tips on your personal insurance coverage and liabilities related to your children and families. This week we get more specific and provide some best practices related to travel and protecting yourself, your finances, and your property while on vacation. As we approach the beginning of summer, addressing these issues before you go on a trip will help provide you some peace of mind and ensure a good time.

Watch your social media exposures.

While we have all become accustomed to sharing everything we do on social media (arguably too much), what you and your children share and when you share it can have significant ramifications for property crime and personal safety. Sharing the details of your vacation minute by minute is fun and exciting, but certainly not a best practice as it will often tell the whole world where you are going, how long you’ll be gone, and that your home is vacant, or even worse, that only certain people are at home, leaving them exposed.

So for instance a post with a picture of the entire family boarding a plane for two weeks, in Hawaii, the sad face pictures of the dog being dropped off at the kennel or your daughter showing off her new swimsuit may not be something everyone should see. Be sure you consider this when posting your pictures and be explicit with your kids (and other adults) about what and when they are allowed to post on sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr. These sites can be used to track you and your family by a variety of criminals, stalkers and etc. so consider sharing those moments and memories on your way home or when you are safely back.

Secure Your Home and Office if Either Will Be Vacant For Some Time

Here, use some basic common sense and make sure that mail and newspapers are being picked up as a first step and that the property is not otherwise obviously vacant. Never leave a note or sign about your absence, like, "gone until July 6th, leave packages next door," yes, people really do this.  Use timers for lights, set alarm systems, and consider who you need to notify that you’ll be gone.

Finally, consider that others are also on vacation and so are their kids, so if you have an attractive nuisance like a really neat pool or some other attractive feature on your property that others may be tempted to use, secure your premises to the greatest extent possible, the liability is yours whether you gave them permission or not in many cases.

Use Defensive Financial Planning for Your Trip, Tips From Experts:

1. Carry some cash, travelers checks, and a limited number of credit cards

2. Make a list of what cards you are actually taking and the card numbers in case they are lost or stolen

3. Avoid taking or using your debit card, especially for international travel, it’s linked directly to your bank account and may be harder to recover from theft or dispute false or inaccurate charges

4. Make sure your have the info required to get cash advances from your credit card including a PIN# since you are now too smart to have brought your debit card with you

5. Whittle down your wallet, there is almost no way you need every department store credit card, form of ID, and membership card in your wallet with you on your trip. Leave the extras at home, and lock them up. Also make sure that items that could be used to take your money, either at home or at the office, like checkbooks and etc. are secured

6. Pay your bills before you go. Logging into your financial accounts on a variety of unsecured networks or worse, public computers in hotels and airport lounges is always a bad idea, always avoid it if possible.

Set up alerts on your cards and bank accounts to automatically inform you of any suspicious activity or even every transaction charged to your cards. Remember that text alerts won’t help you if you are somewhere remote or exotic without cell service, so consider if you need text, email or both.