As the warmer months approach, the need for a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation increases. According to AARP, spring and summer are the most popular times of the year to take a trip, making up 58% of yearly domestic travel. As a vacation approaches, excitement heightens and all focus is dedicated to making sure all the essentials are packed and ready to go but what most people forget to do on vacation is be aware of their security. With an increased use of credit cards, public Wi-Fi, and tagging your location on social media, the risk of identity theft increases.
Here are some security tips to keep in mind while preparing for your next getaway:
- Keep software up to date to protect your computer safe against any new malware that could be released while away. Most software applications give you the option to update automatically which is the best way to ensure they are always up-to-date.
- Never assume a Wi-Fi hotspot is secure. Most public hotspots, such as airports, coffee shops, and hotels are not secure networks. To protect your information when taking advantage of free Wi-Fi is to try and avoid having to send out secure information while on the network. If you absolutely must, make sure the website is fully encrypted and wait to use mobile apps that require personal or financial information once disconnected from the network.
- If you a frequent user of Wi-Fi while traveling, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your device and the VPN provider’s network. This allows you to securely connect to the Wi-Fi while keeping your exchanges private.
- Be cautious when using public charging stations. If using the USB cord without the wall charger port, the USB can be used to transfer data onto your device or copy sensitive data to an unknown source.
- Don't Give Your Location Away...and We're Not Just Talking About Facebook. Check the location services in your phone’s settings before departing for your vacation. If you don’t want to share where you are, consider turning off location services. If you use social media apps, be sure to check the default settings to know if your location is shared along with each post, even if you never mention that your are on vacation.
- Act quickly if sensitive information is stolen or exposed. Keep this helpful article by the Federal Trade Commission bookmarked on your phone or tablet to have quick access on how to recover.
Sources: AARP, United States Federal Trade Commission. www.ftc.gov - not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.
For more information, visit Keep Security in Mind on Your Summer Vacation, Travel Research: 2017 Travel Trends and When Information Is Lost or Exposed.
If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.