6 tips to protect yourself on vacation

Grace Macej 22 Jul 2020

Identity thieves target vacationers, but here’s how you can avoid them entirely

Finally, certain parts of the world have successfully flattened the curve and can open up their cities and economies again. After about 100 days of lockdown measures, just about everyone is suffering from cabin fever and aching for a change of scenery (this writer included!). But before we don our sunglasses, jump in the car, crank the music, and head off for adventure, we should first take a few precautionary measures to ensure we enjoy our time away sans stress.

Identity theft is still a very real threat, and it’s especially dangerous to travelers. Tourist attractions and heavily trafficked areas are the cybercriminal’s favorite playground. In their eyes, there’s no better target than a stranger who can be easily fooled because they don’t know the lay of the land (or, more specifically, the lay of the Wi-Fi networks). 

But follow these 6 cybersecurity traveling tips, and you’ll be blocking bad actors before they even have a chance to target you.

  1. Let your bank know your travel dates and destinations. This is the first thing you should do, and it’s mostly for headache prevention. You’ll save yourself the inconvenience of having transactions declined for being “out of area,” and it lets the bank know where you are in case someone else is trying to use your card numbers back at home. 

  2. Scan all your ID documents – passports, driver’s licenses, social security cards, even your boarding passes. Email them to yourself so you have a digital copy, and then email them to a trusted friend or family member not traveling with you, just in case you need the backup. You might not need them, but if you do, they’ll save you hours of angst and agony.

  3. Pay your bills before or after you travel, not during. Avoid sending or entering sensitive information while you’re on vacation. Anytime you log into one of your accounts, you’re opening a portal to your sensitive information. Limit all online payments to only the unavoidable necessities of the trip. Leave all bills and business at home, if you can.

  4. Use a VPN whenever you have to go online. This will keep any prying eyes from identifying you online. Hackers can not see your identity or your IP address when you use a VPN, so you can conduct all online activities anonymously.

  5. Use a password manager. This saves you from having to type any passwords on unfamiliar servers. A password manager automatically logs you into your desired accounts, so no actual keystrokes need to occur. The other benefit of password managers is that they allow you to use incredibly complex passwords, and you don’t need to memorize them.

  6. Upon your return, change your passwords. If you logged into any accounts while you were away, change their passwords when you get back home. Dial the chances down to zero that you can be hacked as a result of that trip.

We want our first breaths of fresh air after all these stay-at-home orders to be joyous, energizing, and happy. Identity theft would sadly trigger opposite reactions, so let’s take the above measures to prevent that from happening. Whether you're staying in or venturing out this summer, stay smart and stay safe.

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