When you’re heading out for a long-overdue vacation, safety may be the last thing on your mind. However, taking the time to prepare for a safe trip can save you the surprising hangups and hiccups that can ruin great vacations.
Identity theft is a serious risk when you’re a tourist in a foreign country, or even in a major American city. Criminals like to take advantage of tourists on vacation who have their guard down. Criminals in your town could be scouting out homes that are empty while you’re away, so the security of your home is another important consideration. While you can’t eliminate the risk, there are ways that you can minimize the risk of experiencing something tragic while you’re traveling. Here are four tips for safer travel:
1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks
In places with large amounts of tourist traffic, including airports, criminals like to take advantage of people using free public Wi-Fi networks to access their private accounts. They’re able to use these open, unsecured networks to hack and steal information when someone logs into their bank account, credit card account or another account with sensitive financial data. It’s best to avoid these public networks unless you use a VPN to encrypt the data. Another option is to get a password-protected Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone to use while traveling.
2. Get Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection from LifeLock acts as insurance for legal fees and financial damage that occurs as a result of identity theft. However, the best part about investing in security is that it doesn’t have to get to that point. By monitoring all creditors and alerting you whenever a financial account is created with your identity, LifeLock helps keep you ahead of the damage. You can close the account right away, before anything damaging happens, and take immediate action to prove the person opening the account, wasn’t you. Identity theft protection is vital for anyone, but even more so if you’re a tourist. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling in the U.S. or abroad. If you’re going to restaurants, sightseeing venues, and other attractions, scammers could potentially scan your credit card and extract your information, unbeknownst to you.
3. Use Debit and Credit Cards with Caution
Let your financial institutions know about your trip to mitigate any risk of having your financial information stolen while you are away on vacation. This way, they can help monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. Keep an eye on your accounts each day, so you don’t miss anything unusual charges. A good rule of thumb is to never part with your debit or credit card, such as giving it away in a restaurant bill. Don’t give out your credit or debit information over the phone, either, because it may be a scam. To withdraw cash, only use ATMs inside banks. Avoid stand-alone machines, such as those outside of a grocery or convenience store. These are the ones criminals like to use to steal information, and there’s typically less security at these machines.
Burglars know how to spot a home that’s been vacant for a while unless you know how to ward them off. Install motion detector lights all around your house that turn on when someone approaches. Leave a light on in the foyer of your home so that it looks like someone is home. Install security cameras and sign up for a monthly premium with a home security monitoring company so that professional responders can take action when you can’t. Or, install a smart camera system that sends you alerts and video files on your phone when motion or heat is detected in the home.
Whether you’re covered with identity theft protection or your home security is being monitored by third-party professionals, taking safety measures before travel gives you the peace of mind you need for a relaxing vacation. It just takes following a few safety rules to protect your home and your information, and you can enjoy your time away hassle-free.