How NOT To Get Travel Mugged Digitally
Being robbed is a traumatic experience, which we take every precaution to prevent. But nowadays, robbing can come in a less dramatic way digitally and as harrowing, hence we should be no less vigilant.
ID fraud and personal information theft seems to be everywhere at the moment, and many holidaymakers are falling victim to them when travelling abroad. To help keep your personal details safe, here are some top tips to stop ID fraud the next time you go on holiday.
Guarding Offline Information
Your personal information can be stolen in the most mundane ways. Treat all forms of information and important documents as highly secretive and always shield them from the “public”. An obvious example includes concealing your pin number when inputting into cash machines. This is similar but apparently less obvious when we punch in our code to use our mobile, for all around us to see.
Less obvious examples are visible display of passports, all kinds of reservations, addresses, medical info, insurance details etc. Are they unknowingly on open sight? Can someone walking by or sitting next to you get a good glimpse? Is someone watching you surf the net? The more data points that can be collected, the bigger the success they will have.
Never keep all your valuables or important documents in one place. Spread them out to spread the risk and make sure they are kept in difficult to steal places but remember where you’ve kept them so as not to lose them.
Protect Your Bank Cards
Just like here in the UK, bank cards seem to be the number one target for fraudsters overseas, who like nothing more than to empty the bank accounts of unsuspecting holidaymakers. Cash points and ATMs are an easy target for scammers who can tamper with equipment and scan your cards without you realising it.
Use machines in bank lobbies where possible. If not available, check that the cash machine has not been tampered with. Make sure the area where you insert your card don’t look scratched or slightly dodgy in any way, or looks like it’s got an insert. The keys on the pad, especially “Cancel”, ‘Clear” and “Enter” should not stick. If there are signs of any of the above mentioned, move on to a different machine or look for a bank to withdraw cash instead.
There is also some pretty scary technology doing the rounds that gives users the ability to scan your cards while they’re in your pocket, so invest in a protective wallet or case that blocks these devices.
Using pre-paid cards can limit loss as they are not linked to your bank account and stop the fraudster running up a debt. And if pre-paid cards are not an option, call your bank before you travel to let them know where you are off to and the kinds of transactions you’ll be making, just to be safe.
Computers and mobile devices are the richest sources of personal data; hence, device security is an on-going practice and particularly vital when we are travelling and mobile.
Your phone contains a wealth of personal data including access to your bank accounts if you use an online app, access to all of your social media accounts etc. Clever scammers and ID thieves can break into your phone pretty easily, even if it is password protected, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on it at all times to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Even innocently leaving your phone on a table while you go to the hotel bar to get a cold drink could be leaving you wide open to ID fraud, so make sure you leave it with a family member or take it with you wherever you go.
To stay safe when travelling:
- Avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots or use only WEP, WPA and WPA2 networks. Even then, use an https connection, which is indicated by the little padlock beside the URL in your browser.
- Don’t access any sensitive websites such as your online banking service from a public computer.
- Shield your IP address by using VPNs to prevent the tracking of your movements around the Internet, collecting data in the form of cookies.
- Back up your data daily, both to local storage and cloud storage.
Use The Hotel Safe
According to Capital One, 45% of us do not use hotel safes. Stolen passports can command big money, so use the safe or carry it with you at all times. There are debates on how safe a hotel can be but by not using them, we are open to high risk of exposing our valuables and personal information to opportunist thieving.
No bank details, passports, money or credit cards should be left out tempting under-paid cleaners and staff, especially not just “hidden” in suitcases.