• Keep your identity safe on your journey with these 5 travel tips

    2016-08-18

    As technology becomes more advanced and people rely on electronic devices to hold personal information, the dangers that could result from losing your phone or laptop are more severe. Thieves and hackers can now obtain information, such as online banking data, from a stolen phone. This can become an issue for travelers who often have no choice but to use unreliable Internet connections in foreign countries.

    It's important that you're extra cautious as you travel, leaving behind any unnecessary documents at home and keeping an eye on your personal belongings. Here are five travel tips to protect yourself from identity theft on your next trip.

    1. Create a password on your phone
    It can be annoying to have to enter a password every time you need to access your phone or laptop, but even setting up a temporary one will prevent thieves from being able to see your information. Create a password that can't easily be guessed to make your phone useless to robbers.

    With so many phone applications that lead to personal information, such as email and banking apps, it's always a good idea to sign out of these accounts after using them, as well.

    2. Protect your work information
    The Independent Traveler suggested using a personal email instead of your work email while abroad. If your work information were to fall into the hands of the wrong person, it could have devastating effects on both you and your company.

    Similarly, don't leave any documents in an unattended bag or in your hotel room that reveal information if they're stolen. This includes everything from files containing company data to your passport.

    3. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks
    Thieves frequently steal travelers' personal information when they're connected to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. It can be tempting if you're on a business trip or simply want to check your email during a long vacation, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stressed that unsecured public networks should always be avoided.

    Look for networks that ask for a security key before allowing you to connect and read through the privacy statement to see if the network provider is taking any data from your laptop or smartphone. There are usually trusted coffee shops or cafes that offer customers free Internet service. However, if you know you will be needing Internet access a lot throughout your trip, it may also be worth paying for a network connection at your hotel.

    4. Don't attract attention
    Something to keep in mind as you travel is that thieves often tend to target tourists. Having your laptop, phone or bag out for everyone to see in a large public setting will make you extremely vulnerable to theft. If you need to place a call or check an email, always do so discreetly without attracting the attention of those around you. Keep your belongings close to you and never leave them unattended.

    5. Update software on your electronic devices
    According to PCWorld, before you leave for your destination, it's best to update all of your software on your phone and laptop. If your devices don't alert you to new security updates, you can search your manufacturer's website to see if there are any available.

    This is key to protecting your identity because one of the main features in system updates is software patches to areas that may not be entirely safe from potential security breaches, especially some that you may come across while in a foreign country. However, before you download the software make sure that you read the user reviews since sometimes updates have flaws that can negatively impact your system.

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