Identity theft is an especially important worry for vacationers. Nobody wants to check into a hotel only to discover that their credit card has been rejected because a hacker has maxed out his or her card. It is an utterly helpless feeling that occurs all too often. However, it can be prevented. Here are several ways that hackers can steal your identity as well as some steps you can take to avoid such a catastrophe while vacationing.
Understand Why You Can Get Hacked
In the past, safeguarding money was as simple as preventing the theft of your wallet or purse and using money orders instead of cash. We don't live in such a simple world any longer. Today we have virtual pickpockets or hackers. These thieves are targeting much more than the contents of your wallet -- rather they want your identity. Since travelers often let their guard down on vacation, they are especially at risk.
The explanations for this unfortunate situation are straightforward. Consumers are oftentimes so negligent with their private data that they do not realize that they have had their credentials stolen. In fact, a large number of identity theft victims on vacation never even know where their identity was stolen.
Understand How You Get Hacked
How do thieves gain access to your private information? The vulnerabilities begin at home. A failure to notify the post office that you are traveling leads to an overflowing mailbox. Hackers take note of absent residents just the same as ordinary robbers. They see an opportunity to attack your wireless network in your absence, and they have plenty of time to gain access since they know you are gone for a while.
Another obvious way is via your smart devices. Tablets and phones allow you to take your home life with you when you travel. There is a danger in that. You are also bringing your banking and credit card information with you as well. If a thief gains access to your smart device, you have effectively provided them access to every bit of your private data. They will likely be able to access all of your financial records straight from your apps with little effort.
Keep in mind that not every point of attack is due to complete carelessness, though. Do you leave your luggage and other personal items sitting around your hotel room? If so, you are entrusting not just hotel employees, but also underestimating thieves who understand the weaknesses in hotel security. By leaving your personal belongings in plain sight, you expose yourself to would-be hackers. In the past, a thief may have stolen your luggage, and you would have realized what had happened. Today, someone can flip through your documents, copy your information, and exit without you ever knowing. The damage, however, can be much more difficult to repair.
Understand How to Protect Yourself
Constant concerns regarding identity theft while traveling can stand in the way of having a good time while on vacation. Fortunately, there are a lot of relatively easy steps that can be taken to protect your family from identity theft. For starters, ask the post office to hold your mail before you leave. Hiding your extended absence is a strong first step.
Also, if you do not use passwords and passcodes on your smart devices, set them up prior to leaving on vacation. If you lose your device, you will be glad that you did. You should also consider purchasing an identity fraud protection plan that will alert you instantly if your personal information is being exploited.
Your Identity on Vacation
Ultimately, you shouldn't treat your hotel room like your home away from home. It isn't. You do not know the staff nor do you know how secure the building is. Since most hotel rooms offer in-room safes, get in the habit of using it for anything that would give hackers unauthorized access to your data.
Protecting yourself is an imperative. You spend most of the year anticipating vacation, after all -- why not spend a little extra time planning identity protection. You shouldn't have to feel sick about the fact that some anonymous thief could be taking all of your data, as well as your money. Simply follow the steps above to secure peace of mind on your next vacation.