Traveling is a joy. After working what seems like endless hours, you need a
break; a bit of R and R. The last thing you want to deal with when traveling is
the theft of your personal information. Our friend's Experian’s ProtectMyID have
shared ten helpful tips to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of
identity theft while traveling.
You've checked into your hotel with your sister, and decide to use the free Wi-Fi in the lounge to find local attractions on your laptop. You're both excited to celebrate her birthday, and have big plans for the weekend. In the background is what appears to be a handsome business man chatting on his phone. The problem is - he's a hacker, and he's presently stealing your information. Hacker's and Tech Thieves look like everyone else; everyday people going about their business who happen to be fighting to see who can steal your information first. And, often you won't know you've been a victim of theft or a hack until it's too late. Here are a few tips to help you prepare ahead, and be safe on your travels:
Clear Out Your Wallet Or Purse: Before taking your trip remove items like your checkbook, unneeded credit cards and unnecessary documents, such as Social Security cards from your wallet or purse. Place these in a secure place in your home.
Consider Using Credit Not Debit Cards: Did you know that the majority of major credit cards have zero liability to
the cardholder if they are stolen and used. If your stolen bank debit card is stolen thieves can drain the funds in
minutes. Banks are there to safeguard your account, and may put a hold on a credit card or account if they see
strange activity like funds drawn out of state. So, it is wise alert your bank and credit card providers to avoid potential blocks or delays when using your cards.
Extra Tip For Those Who Prefer Not To Use Credit Cards: Prepaid Debit Cards are helpful on the road. These cards can also help you stay within your budget. You can place a certain amount on the card, and not worry about thieves accessing your bank funds via your Debit Card. Be aware that most hotels do require a credit card, and may place a higher hold on your prepaid debit cards. In this case, ask if you can make a cash deposit instead, and you receive the money back when you check out.
Be Aware And Avoid Skimming At ATM'S: Thieves are tricky, and have been known to place fake ATM machines in high traffic tourist areas. If you must use an ATM during your travels, be sure that it is in a secure location, and whenever possible, use one stationed at a bank branch. And, shield your pin entry with your other hand to avoid shoulder surfers.
Protect Your Mobile Devices: We live in a mobile world that keeps us connected to friends and family on the road via our mobile devices. The problem comes when we accidently lose them and someone can access our private information. Be sure to add passwords and encryption to your mobile phone, thumb drives, tablets, and laptops.
Create Strong Passwords: When creating a password it is best to use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation to make your passwords harder to crack.
Protecting Your Social Networks: Should you have a Facebook, Twitter, or other social account, be sure to use strong passwords as suggested above. Also, use the highest security settings possible to ensure your information, posts and photos are not being leaked onto the Internet.
Hackers Are Waiting Online: Public Wi-Fi is nice to use, but there are hackers out there waiting for you to log on. Once a hacker gets in they can steal your login details and any credit card information or other personal information. Be sure the Public Wi-Fi you're logging into is secured and on private networks. Use this link to view Security Notes on USA Travel Magazine
Take Control Of Your Wi-Fi: We use our mobile phone as a personal hotspot on the road because we know it's secure. You can easily use a portable router or your mobile device to create your own hotspot for your family, and avoid using public Wi-Fi spots altogether. Local SIM data cards are another option that is often affordable, and available at most electronic stores or even airport kiosks.
Avoid Unfamiliar URL'S: While you're reading this article you may be able to see the url above. In the case of mobile websites, they usually do not show the url, so you could be on a fake site. This is another way that hackers steal your information. If the site you're visiting looks sloppy or unfamiliar close the window. Keep bookmarks of your favorite legitimate sites after you type in the address when logging onto it from your mobile device. This will make it easier to find them in the future.
Limit Online Socializing: While socializing and sharing your vacation with family and friends is fun; it can also lead to trouble. Thieves are clever, and watch social networks for people who are away on a trip and then break into homes while you're away. If you just can’t help yourself, make sure to set your privacy settings on your Facebook page to “friends” only to help control the number of people who actually see your pictures. Although the best option is to delay posts until you are back home. Other safeguards to put in place are to set your home alarm, or consider hiring a house sitter or have a neighbor or family member keep an eye on your home while you're away.
Extra Tip On Deals and Discounts: Check with your credit card company, and even your mobile phone services for special discounts on travel. An example is Verizon Wireless, which rewards their customers with points for using their services. These points can later be used in their travel section. We saved almost 50.00 off the price of 120.00 per night on a hotel in Florida. And, we were able to pay for it was a prepaid debt card!
Traveling with mobile devices keeps us connected to those we love, and with a few precautions we can lessen the worries of hackers and identity thieves stealing our information.
Wherever your travels take you, we hope you have a safe and memorable trip!
By Melody Schubert
Experian’s ProtectMyID program that offers Daily Detection, Internet Scanning that alerts you if your information is exposed online, and other services available. You will also find other helpful tips to use in protecting your private information at home and while on the road.