For travelers, there are things to be aware of whether you're at the airport, or opening up a laptop at your hotel.
With 1 in 4 people having experienced identity theft, it’s important to be especially cautious while traveling.
Identity thieves and hackers are finding new and creative ways to steal our sensitive personal information every day.
Before you consider throwing away your airline boarding pass in a public trash can or posting a picture of it on social media, consider how it could be used to steal your identity.
According to a leading cyber security blogger, a lot more than you think is stored between the tiny black-and-white lines of your boarding pass' bar code or QR scanning code.
A barcode on a boarding pass often provides a wealth of personal data, including a person’s full name, phone number, address, records of past and future trips and even a frequent flier account number.
All of this brings to mind how many ways one's identity can be vulnerable while traveling. Consider these tips to help protect your identity when away from home:
- Refrain from posting details or photos of your trip online until after you're home. These days, with the ease of smartphones, it's all too tempting to "check in" online and instantly post photos to social media, all while in a taxi or waiting in line at the airport but doing so only broadcasts to the world that your home is empty (and ripe for burglars), your car is likely parked in your unsupervised garage, and you'll be swiping your credit cards in untold numbers of places over the next few days.
- Don't carry anything important in your back pocket. Airports are crowded places, and getting bumped into and jostled around is expected. It's all too easy for someone to bump into you and lift your wallet with your ID, boarding pass or smartphone out of your back pocket at the same time. Don't give them the opportunity.
- Use smart passwords. This is important all the time — but never more so than when you're traveling, and taking your smartphone, tablet, or laptop with you. Use smart passwords for everything. That means both upper- and lower-case letters with a mix of numerals and symbols such as an asterisk or "@" sign. In addition, don't use the same password for everything. Also, protect your smartphone with a four-digit security pin in order to access it.
- Separate your money. A great tip from travel experts — keep different types of money in different places while traveling. Most of us use a wallet that holds not only our cash, but also all our credit cards and our ID. A leading travel website says, don't — if you lose it, you've lost everything, all in one fell swoop. Instead, keep your cash in one place, and your credit cards in a different place, or at least set one emergency card aside. If you are traveling with both a driver's license and passport, store them in different places as well. And remember — there's no need to take everything you own with you. If you have multiple credit cards, consider picking one to take with you, and leave the others in a safe place at home.
- Be careful when using public WiFi. When traveling, it's best to use a password-protected WiFi network which you know you can trust. In other places, consider using a VPN. If you must use public WiFi, explicitly ask about the WiFi options at places like hotels and coffee shops. Don't automatically let your device connect to the first available network; rather, verify the network name and login with the hotel or cafe. Hackers and identity thieves try to trick us by naming their network as close to the name of a nearby business as possible. The security experts at Norton advise travelers to turn off their wireless connection when they're not using it, and to limit what online activities you engage in as much as possible. Leave banking or online shopping for later when you are on a secure network.
Lastly, consider signing up for an identity theft protection service, like LifeLock, which can help protect your identity.
LifeLock does this by detecting, alerting† and helping fix identity theft problems. LifeLock has proprietary technology that scans millions of transactions every second for identity threats. If something suspicious is found, members are alerted† via text, phone or email.*
If a member has an identity theft problem, LifeLock has dedicated U.S.-based Identity Restoration Specialists who will work to fix the problem. Additionally, LifeLock will spend up to $1 million on experts and lawyers to help restore a member’s good name.‡ And, depending on the level of the member’s plan, LifeLock will reimburse dollar for dollar for funds stolen, up to $25,000, up to $100,000 or up to $1,000,000t.‡
LifeLock members also get Lost Wallet Protection, which means, if your wallet is lost or stolen, one of their specialists will help cancel or replace credit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards and more.
No one can prevent all identity theft.
† LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
* Phone alerts made during normal local business hours.
‡ Stolen Funds Reimbursement benefits and Service Guarantee benefits for State of New York members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy underwritten by State National Insurance Company. Benefits for all other members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy underwritten by United Specialty Insurance Company. Under the Stolen Funds Reimbursement, LifeLock will reimburse stolen funds up to $25,000 for Standard membership, up to $100,000 for Advantage membership and up to $1 Million for Ultimate Plus membership. Under the Service Guarantee LifeLock will spend up to $1 Million to hire experts to help your recovery. Please see the policy for terms, conditions and exclusions at LifeLock.com/legal.