5 Tips for Protecting Your Privacy and Identity During Summer Travel
Take steps to avoid fraud, identity theft, and other privacy risks, so you can relax on vacation
Discounted Identity Protection Plans
Protect against financial and medical identity theft with a comprehensive solution you can count on.
Summer travel season is upon us, and you’re probably thinking about your next vacation amid sun, sand, and waves. Know who never takes a vacation? Scammers and cybercriminals. While a warm-weather getaway is the perfect opportunity for you to leave behind your daily cares for a little while, it’s definitely not the time to let down your guard when it comes to protecting your identity and digital privacy.
Problem 1: Fake or non-secure Wi-Fi networks
You’re at a theme park and you want to post some photos to social media, so you go to the list of available Wi-Fi networks. The first one shown is an open network with a name that sounds vaguely like it’s meant for park guests. (Your phone may have even automatically joined the network.) There’s no security protection, but you’ll only be on for a few minutes, right? Later on, you discover that your identity has been stolen, or malware has infected your device.
Our advice: Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Connecting to public Wi-Fi is risky, because others can potentially spy on you, track you, or plant malware on your device. Scammers can even create fake networks with authentic-sounding names in order to steal your personal data. When using public Wi-Fi, it’s best to go through a VPN like SafeWiFi from IDX. It encrypts your connection and delivers your data anonymously, so no one can access your personal information, online activity, or location.
Problem 2: Device theft
You’re at the pool and you realize you left your sunglasses in your room. You leave the pool for a few minutes, only to return to find that the phone or laptop you had left on your chair is now gone.
Our advice: Secure your devices, and back up your data. Never leave a laptop or mobile device unattended in public places. Also, be sure your phone is always locked with a strong PIN, and your tablet or laptop is locked with a hard-to-guess password. (IDX Password Manager can create and store secure passwords for you.) Use cloud storage or an external storage device to regularly back up your device data, so that if your device is stolen, you’ll still have access to your information.
Problem 3: Credit or financial fraud
You’re on the go, and you’ve just swiped your credit card at a gas pump, or you’ve used your debit card at a public ATM. Only later—perhaps months later—do you discover that fraudsters have used skimming devices or similar means to steal your identity via your credit or bank account. Fraudulent activity has been conducted in your name, and your credit has taken a hit.
Our advice: Monitor your credit. If your identity has been stolen, it’s critical to find out right away so you can limit the damage. IDX offers credit management services for this purpose, including automatic, 24/7 monitoring of your credit report and credit score. You’ll get alerted to any new financial activity in your name, so you can act quickly if anything seems suspicious.
Problem 4: Malware planted on public USB chargers
Your phone is running out of juice, so you recharge it by plugging into a handy USB charging outlet in the lobby of your hotel. What you didn’t count on is having spyware or malware transferred from the USB charger to your phone.
Our advice: Use AC chargers, and keep your software up to date. It’s called “juice jacking”: Scammers load malware into the USB charging station infrastructure or in cables that they leave connected to the station. From there, they can infect your plugged-in device, and in turn lock you out of the device or steal your data. Avoid public USB chargers, and use an AC outlet instead. Keep your device’s operating software, as well as any anti-virus software, up-to-date to make sure you have the latest security patches.
Problem 5: Declined credit card purchases
You’ve just had dinner at a restaurant in a distant state. You hand your credit card to the server, only to have them come back and tell you the transaction has been declined. You then discover that your credit account has been locked because the purchase seems suspicious. It’s one of those cases where fraud hasn’t actually occurred, but the credit card company thinks it has.
Our advice: Set up a travel alert. Many credit card providers allow you to notify them if you’ll be traveling out of your home state, so they don’t wind up declining an out-of-state purchase or locking your account because it seems fraudulent. It’s especially important to set up an alert if you’re using a card for the first time, or for the first time in a long while.
With these few simple steps, you can have more peace of mind when using electronic devices and credit cards during summer vacation—and focus your attention on fun and relaxation, where it belongs.