Identity Theft

Here are a few steps to limit your chances of falling prey to this common traveler's nightmare. Consider ways to avoid the theft of your credit card numbers, social security number, internet passwords, bank account numbers, home address, etc. 

 

1. CREDIT CARDS

  • Make the Call: Most credit card issuers encourage cardholders to let them know before traveling, especially internationally. That way, they won’t flag your credit card purchases as fraudulent, which can lead to all your transactions being declined. Give the dates of your trip, so your card issuer can flag any international purchases that occur after you’ve arrived home.

  • Cull You Cards: Limit the number of credit cards you carry with you on your travels and keep those segregated from one another. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. One basket lost/stolen and all the eggs are broken. And if you and your traveling companion share a card account, bye-bye to it as well.

 

2. CHECKBOOKS  - Leave them at home

 

3. SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

  • Leave your SS Card at home.

  • Leave your Medicare card at home. It carries your SS# as well. Injured or sick while away from home? Give hospital you SS# and they will be able to verify your Medicare. In 2018, the US government will be issuing new and replacing the old Medicare cards with ones that do not contain a SS#. 

 

4. PUBLIC WI-FI

Public Wi-Fi systems such as those found on airplanes, in cafes, hotels or shopping malls may be totally insecure. So imagine everything you are typing as being broadcast on a billboard in Times Square.

 

  • In a Hotel: A hacker can present a fake Wi-Fi network such as "Marriot Guest Wi-Fi" to the hotel guest. And If their signal is stronger than the hotel, it will appear as a preferred choice — ahead of the hotel’s legitimate network. Everything you do on the internet will be watched and recorded by the hacker.

  • On an Airplane: A hacker can present a fake open network with the name of the airline. People thinking it's legit try to reach popular websites. The hacker presents the login screen to capture their username and password and then presents an error message stating that the user will not be able to access the account until the plane lands. So - what information did the hacker get and how is he going to use it?

 

What are Your Options?

  • Avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots.

  • Or if you must, sign onto sites that are encrypted as signified by https:// at the beginning of their web address. The encryption scrambles your traffic so hackers can not get your passwords or other information. 

  • Set up your own mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Turn your phone into a hotspot for your tablet/computer.

  • For (nearly) iron-clad protection, use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all of the information that passes between you and a wireless network, wherever that network is located.  Commonly used in the business world, VPNs let off-site employees create an encrypted connection with the company network so they can work safely.

 

5. PUBLIC COMPUTERS

The public computer in a hotel or Internet cafe may be convenient if you’re traveling without your laptop, but using one leaves you vulnerable - big time. That’s because you have no idea what has been installed on that computer. Risks include key-logging software that remembers your username and password, out-of-date security updates, and insufficient anti-virus software.

But - if you must use a public computer

  • Use it only for innocuous purposes, such as researching restaurant options or museum hours.

  • Do not check your online bank account or enter any personal financial information.

  • Even checking your email or posting on Facebook can be risky.

 

6. PHOTO POSTING

The soft-focus shot you just Tweeted of you walking on a sunset beach is terrific but it also informs crooks that you’re not at home. Thieves troll Facebook, MySpace, Instagram and other social networking sites to see when people are on vacation and possibly target their home for a break-in.

  • So - think about it. What identifying information is on your social network profiles?  

 

What's a VPN?