There should be more TV commercials for preventing identity theft—it’s nearly epidemic. But also epidemic is the lack of identity security that people have when traveling. Here are some ways to avoid having your identity stolen while traveling:
- Prior to leaving for your trip, clean out your purse and wallet. Figure out what you really need for the trip, then bring only those items.
- Contact the post office to put your mail on vacation hold.
- Get a home-screen-locking password for your smartphone.
- Equip your computer devices with encryption software.
- Your smartphone should have lock/locate/wipe software.
- Bring your driver’s license with you even if you don’t plan on driving anywhere, for ID; don’t rely on your passport alone. The driver’s license and international ID should have online backups made.
- When using public Wi-Fi (even in your hometown), use only WEP, WPA and WPA2 networks, and visit only the sites that have the padlock symbol and “https” before their URLs. That’s how you know they are secure.
- Arrange to have enough cash with you to make the majority (if not all) of your travel purchases. Avoid using a debit card because if it gets compromised, you won’t be able to get reimbursed.
- Back up your data prior to leaving and every day when away. Prior to your trip and during, make sure to have local and cloud backup set up on your devices. Cloud backup such as Carbonite will update your data based on custom settings as frequently as you require.
- Even if you have encryption software, avoid financial transactions when using the hotel’s computer. The person using it after you could be a skilled cyber thief, or the person before you could have plugged a keylogger into the computer.
- Avoid isolated ATM kiosks. Use those only inside a bank. Shield your fingers when using the keypad. Promptly destroy the receipts.
- Never give private information over the phone to hotel staff. The “staff” could be a thief posing as an employee. When personal information is involved, always deal face to face at the front desk.
- Any documents or paperwork with private information should be locked inside your hotel room’s safe at all times unless in use.
- Give your phone number out only to service personnel who absolutely need it.
- Have your credit put on freeze status (unless you plan on applying for a loan very soon).
- Get ID theft protection.
- Review your credit card statements monthly and look for unexpected charges.
Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.