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Protect Your Identity While You Travel

There are obvious things to do to protect your identity when you travel, like don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet, ever. But less-obvious dangers also grow as you log on to numerous and unknown public wifi hotspots, stopping for coffee and a quick e-mail check between destinations.

The more hotel, cafe and airport networks you connect to, the more you put yourself at risk, experts say. Here's how to stay safe as you network-hop along the road or in another country.

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  • The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking each and every site you visit to make sure it's encrypted, which means anyone trying to spy on your surfing gets a scrambled site. How to do that? Look for the "https" at the beginning of the URL, instead of just "http." Every time.

  • Log out of what you don't use, recommends OnGuardOnline.gov. The less private information is open and available on your computer or phone, the less is available for an identity thief to find.

  • Another easy, albeit time-consuming trick: sign up for two-step verification when you log into your social media or e-mail accounts, recommends "The Getaway" column in The New York Times. Sites like Facebook and Gmail will send a text to your cell phone that you must enter — on top of your password — to log in. That way, if hackers track down your login and password, they still can't access the account.

  • If you must do a lot of web surfing when you travel, Both OnGuardOnline.gov and "The Getaway" advise looking into a virtual private network. Many companies already have these, which route employees web browsing back through the employers servers, so hackers can't tell where the employee is or what he is reading. Don't have an employer with a VPN? Check out Tor, free software that will hide your location and your browsing history, "The Getaway" advises. Find it at Torproject.org

  • And finally, don't download an app for free WiFi, "The Getaway" says. That free app could contain hacker software.

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