How to Keep Yourself (and Your Information) Safe While Traveling Abroad: 6 Tips
Cybercriminals operate all over the world, and Americans are one of their biggest targets. Without the right precautionary steps, you can fall victim to having your information stolen or worse–having your own life at risk.
The risk of identity theft is greater when you’re traveling, since cybercriminals tend to target foreigners who enter their country. Thankfully, there are ways you can make it very difficult for them to do so. Even more importantly, you can reduce your vulnerability to getting robbed or assulted. Here are 6 tips for safe travel:
#1. Use Your Debit and Credit Cards Carefully
Call your financial institutions to inform them about your trip, so they can monitor fraud more accurately. Still, you need to monitor your bank and credit card reports on your own to make sure you don’t miss any suspicious activity.
Use ATMs at local banks instead of stand-alone machines, which cybercriminals can tamper with to steal information. Local banks also have security cameras that help ward off street criminals. Don’t part with your debit or credit cards, to avoid having the information on them stolen. Also, avoid giving the information over the phone.
#2. Don’t Post Your Whereabouts on Social Media
If you’re posting on social media that you’ve gone on a two-month trip to France, you could be letting potential burglars know that you’re gone. Even if you think only family and friends are seeing the information, you can’t be certain of it, because it can always end up in the wrong hands. Tell your family and friends about your travel plans directly and share photos when you get back.
#3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
There are free public Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world, as businesses like cafes and malls like to offer their customers this service. Unfortunately, a public network the perfect place for cybercriminals to hack data. Use a VPN to encrypt your data when you’re on public Wi-Fi, or use your own password-protected hotspot from your phone.
#4. Bring a TSA-Approved Self-Defense Tool
It’s impossible to travel with most weapons, but there are some TSA-approved self-defense tools you can bring on your trip to help you defend yourself. Most of the approved items are multi-tools, which offer a wide range of uses in addition to self-defense. You can feel safer knowing you have it just in case.
#5. Don’t Look Like a Tourist
Criminals know how to spot tourists, so your job is to not look like one. Acclimate yourself to the culture and language as quickly as possible, and most importantly, show your confidence. Tourists give themselves away by looking like they’re new to the area and don’t know where they’re going. Other givaways are cameras around their necks and city maps. Use the map on your phone to help you get around, and dress with local fashion sense.
#6. Get Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection lowers your risk of identity theft by monitoring and alerting you as soon as your identity is used to create a new financial account. This way, you can immediately close the account before anything damaging happens. In the case that identity theft occurs, identity theft protection serves as insurance for legal fees and damages. While identity theft protection is important for everyone, it’s even more important when you’re traveling abroad.
Returning Home Safe and Sound
Before you leave, consider protecting yourself both physically and digitally. Having a self-defense weapon on you and looking like you belong can go a long way in keeping you physically safe. Now that we store so much information online, hackers have easier access. Just like physical scars, cyberhacking can do damage that lasts for years to come. Identity theft protection and safe access and use of your data will help your sensitive information stay secure.