This guest post is from Sarah Barnes. Sarah is a budget travel writer who organizes group eco-tours to South America. She is passionate about seeing the world and has a goal to visit every continent before she turns 40.
Not so long ago when you prepared to leave on vacation, your biggest safety concerns had to do with crime and health issues at your destination. In today’s digital driven world, traveling puts you at a bigger risk with identity theft. Whether your travel insurance covers data loss, or a site like www.Lifelock.org protects you from home security or abroad- prevention is still your best insurance.
Things Back Home
Some basic rules of travel safety still apply to protecting your data and that starts at home. According to the Mercury News, San Jose’s largest city newspaper, your biggest threat while on vacation is back home. Make sure the neighbors know you’re gone, and make sure all of your electronic devices are secured and password protected.
Only Travel With Electronic Devices You Absolutely Need
Don’t take more devices than necessary. All of these contain data that can help identity thieves get closer to stealing your good name, and any liquid assets associated with it. Make sure that when you compare travel insurance options it covers both loss of these devices and damage resulting from data theft.
Keep Your Valuables Close, and Your Data Closer
Never pack valuables in stowed luggage — and that includes computers. If luggage goes in unpressurized storage compartments you won’t ever need to worry about thieves or hackers. Some electronic components — such as hermetically-sealed hard drives — may sustain damage just by being in such an environment. So pack valuables in carry-on luggage. Tag all luggage appropriately, with tags both inside and out.
Free Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
When you travel, beware of free public Wi-Fi hotspots. Private data, including credit card information, can go public quickly by using the coffee shop down on the corner. Most of the time these networks aren’t safely protected.
Once upon a time you only had to worry about someone actually stealing credit card information, but now that’s just an old fairy tale. You will use your credit cards at ATM’s and online. You will pull your cards out in shops and airports, cafes and restaurants, and any place that takes them. Every time you do there is a greater chance that someone will see or record your number for later exploitation. You may not even know that your identity has been compromised — until months later your card is suddenly maxed out to pay for a bill of goods you’ve never seen. Today’s threats can keep on hitting you long after you return — take careful consideration with travel protection insurance.