Last Updated on December 19, 2019
Learn about the unexpected ways you may become a victim of identity theft while traveling.
Some things may seem harmless but can end up causing a financial crisis, in addition to all the stress that comes with it. Just because you’re on a lovely vacation, it doesn’t mean cyber criminals can’t get you.
Make sure to stay alert and don’t make any of the common mistakes travelers make when it comes to keeping their personal and financial information safe.
Remember, the data on your device can be a jackpot for hackers, especially when you’re traveling.
Here are 10 ways hackers can get you when you’re traveling, along with expert advice on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
#1 – Charging Your Phone in Public
According to a recent IBM survey, about 70% of travelers have engaged in dangerous behaviors that made them vulnerable to a cyber attack without even realizing it.
Charging your phone at a public USB station can be much more dangerous than you think. It’s easy for cybercriminals to tamper with USB connections or secretly install Malware in airport lounges or hotel rooms so they can download data from any device.
To keep your personal information safe and avoid identity theft, you should stick only to traditional wall outlets, or better yet, pack a back-up battery.
#2 – Connecting to Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi can come with a very dangerous cost, especially for jet setters.
International travelers often rely on public Wi-Fi to lower the cost of roaming data without being aware that cybercriminals can easily collect their data by establishing fraud Wi-Fi networks in public places.
The best way to protect your data and identity is by avoiding public Wi-Fi as much as possible. Remember that even if you have to pay for your roaming data, you’d be avoiding terrible risks.
#3 – Paying Bills on the Road
When you’re relaxing in your hotel room or maybe by the swimming pool, the last thing you want to do is pay your monthly bills online. It can be much safer if you just focus on chilling and enjoying your trip instead.
Keep in mind that legitimate networks that are hosted by establishments can be prone to digital eavesdropping, meaning if you used your credit card to pay for something online, an adversary might steal it.
Moreover, you should never carry any paper bills or other sensitive documents with you while traveling.
#4 – Using a Debit Card to Make Purchases
Avoid using your debit card while abroad even if you’re tight on cash. In fact, restaurants and stores that have unsecured sales systems can be easily hacked, allowing cybercriminals to steal and use your card’s digits.
So, leave your debit card in your wallet and only use a credit card that can provide protection if compromised.
Also, use only ATMs that are inside a bank or airport to minimize your risk of being skimmed.
#5 – Neglecting Your Loyalty Rewards Account
According to a 2015-report from the Associated Press, as much as ten thousand American Airlines and United accounts were hacked by cybercriminals who used stolen data to book free flights and upgrades. Unluckily, these cyber attacks progressed to even include the industry of transportation in 2018.
To stay safe from hackers, make sure to check your loyalty rewards accounts every now and then for any strange activity, plus, use two-factor authentication and really strong passwords.
#6 – Sharing Your Travel Plans on Social Media
While traveling, you may be tempted to post pictures of a stunning view or an exotic meal, but you really shouldn’t. Sharing details about your travels and moves may get into the hands of cybercriminals.
It’s best to share the details of your trip with your loved ones in person rather than letting everyone on the internet know too. Just wait until you get home safely and then you can post as many vacation selfies as you want.
#7 – Turning On the Location Tracking
When you allow your device to track your whereabouts when traveling, you could be an easy target for hackers who are always ready to access information about the locations you visit and the travel patterns you take.
While on the road, be sure to keep your devices safe both physically and virtually. And if you’re flying to your destination, turn off the location tracking on your devices before getting on the plane.
#8 – Using the Same Password for All Your Accounts
It may be a difficult task to remember all the passwords but you should never use the same password for all your accounts as well as you should never use easy passwords, like your birth date, names, 123456, and the word password itself. These simple passwords can be easily guessed even if the hacker is a beginner.
That’s why you need to pick complex, long, and unique passwords for each account to at least prevent the huge damage that may occur in case one account was hacked.
#9 – Using a Laptop without Antivirus Software
Hackers can get to any device you have to steal your precious personal data, including your account passwords, employment status, address, and credit card statements.
If such personally identifiable information fell in the hands of hackers, they can easily steal your identity and use it however they want.
So in case you really cannot leave your laptop behind while traveling, then you should at least make sure to install the most recent antivirus software and security patches on all your devices.
#10 – Saving Ticket Stubs
Many people like to save boarding passes, receipts, or tickets from a trip as souvenirs. But these little souvenirs can cause more damage than you can afford.
Cybercriminals can gather important clues about your financial or personal information, like your loyalty rewards account or credit card, using these little pieces of paper.
Those who are in the habit of keeping old tickets should better quit. The safest approach is to take a photo and shred the paper right away.
We hope you travel safely and stay off the path of dangerous criminals.
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