The fun of exploring and discovering new places is unmatched, but so too are the risks for travellers exposing their financial identity to a world wide web of opportunistic crooks.
Sure technology has made it easier to travel, but it has also made it easier for thieves and cybercrime pros to nick your private financial information. Before you set off, consider these tips to protect your credit card and identity from fraud and identity theft.
1. WATCH YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION
What’s the one search that unites all travellers no matter where they are? The hunt for free WiFi of course. But, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the free cafeWiFi you happen upon probably offers an unsecured connection – allowing the criminal element to spy on your device and internet goings on. So, if you have to use free or public internet, avoid opening important emails, entering website or email logins, and most especially – accessing bank or finance accounts. If you must check on sensitive account information, then make sure your connection is secured by using password protected internet provided by hotels for example. The best idea really, is to load your phone up with a local SIM and use your own data to surf sensitive sites.
2. CLEAR YOUR BROWSING HISTORY ON SHARED DEVICES
In cases where you need to use a public computer, definitely delete your browsing history once you’re done. (Also remember to thoroughly wet-wipe the mouse and keyboard first!). Some internet cafe setups are intelligent enough to remove user information automatically, but not all of them. Undeleted cache memory can be used by malicious users to steal personal information. Also, if you needed to download files, make sure you erase them from the desktop and any place the content might have been saved to. Be sure to clear your internet search history, any social or email account logins, and downloaded files.
3. SECURE YOUR MOBILE DEVICES
Mobile phones can be more vulnerable than computers since they are always on and will keep you signed in to web and app accounts. They also contain your personal information and can location – music to the ears of fraudsters who have many an unfathomable way of hacking devices connected to the net. You may not always realise you’re connected, so make it a point to screen lock your phone and consider running your mobile on airplane mode as much as possible to doubly lock the thing down – also great for preserving precious battery life.
4. EAGLE EYE BANK STATEMENTS
If you do get a chance to access a secured connection, then check your credit card statements. You can check for suspicious activity and then take prompt action if you find any. Some credit card companies even provide the option of disabling your account temporarily and all provide phone numbers for international callers to call in and freeze lost or stolen cards. Keeping these numbers handy is actually a pretty good idea.
5. PROTECT YOUR DEVICE IF STOLEN
If you’re unlucky enough to get your phone or laptop pinched while you’re roaming the world, you’d better hope the stuff that’s on it doesn’t suffer the same fate. There’s lots of ways, and apps you can use to safeguard the contents of your phone starting with your security settings. Be sure to fingerprint, password or passcode protect your phone, and consider decreasing the time it takes for the screen to lock when not in use — while it’s annoying to have to keep entering your code, that’s not nearly as annoying as identity theft (and you can relax your security settings once you’re home).
Next, use tools provided by Apple, Google and Sony to be able to track your phone, erase its contents, and log that device out of all logged in accounts.
For example iPhone has a setting which will delete your phone’s data on 10 incorrect passcode entries while Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ service is an essential for any iPhone owner. The Google-Android universe offers as many security settings and services. While your data is hopefully being wiped, play it extra safe by changing sensitive passwords especially online banking passwords, and info-rich social media and email accounts.
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou