Another summer is ready to come to a close, but there’s still time to squeeze in one last vacation before fall.
Here are some important travel tips that you can use at any time of year to keep your identity safe from scammers and thieves.
- Plan with caution – A travel scam can start the minute you begin planning for a trip. Browsing online for airfare or accommodations can lead you to dishonest sites. Some of these sites may offer bogus deals or listings that don’t actually exist, while others may actually install malicious software on your device. Be very cautious about how and where you search, and make sure your antivirus software is up to date.
- Secure devices – While traveling, make sure your electronics are secured. This means setting a passcode on your smartphone or tablet in case of loss or theft, making sure your online accounts are locked up tight with strong, unique passwords, and logging out of sensitive apps for social media and email. Your device can lead to an unbelievable amount of damage if thieves get their hands on it.
- Limit Wi-Fi connections – If you connect over public Wi-Fi at your hotel, a restaurant, or other unsecured location, you have no way of knowing who is on the connection as well. A hacker with the right tools and know-how can steal your credentials. Try to limit your connections over public Wi-Fi to less sensitive activity and use a VPN whenever possible. Helpful hint: if you’re traveling abroad, a VPN is a safe and legal way to access your authorized accounts from another country, even if that internet market doesn’t support the website you’re trying to use.
- Add layers of security – There are additional layers of security that you can put in place specifically for traveling. You might consider changing your passwords before the trip and then changing them back as soon as you get home; if a thief or hacker has stolen your login—say, for your credit card or online banking—this can thwart their unauthorized activity. You might also consider using a specific email for the duration of your trip, just in case someone manages to access your account; this would keep them from gaining control of your regular email, and instead only give them access to a throwaway email account.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious activity – And lastly, it’s important to go through your bank and credit card statements to look for any suspicious activity that might have occurred while you were away. This is especially imperative for extended periods of travel.
Scammers come up with new tactics every day, so keep your guard up and stay informed about fraud and identity theft.
Eva Velasquez is CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center, proudly sponsored by CyberScout.