8 Tips for Secure Travel: Safeguarding Personal Information, Avoiding Hackers, and Outwitting Thieves

By Paul Riegler on 4 May 2013
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Before you embark on a trip this spring or summer:DSC_2811

Copy, copy, copy.  Make a scan or photocopy of credit cards, passports, driver’s licenses, and other important documents and keep a paper copy of them separately when you travel.   I made fun of my father for doing this when I was a child but now I see his point.

Lose some weight.  Leave unnecessary credit cards (department stores) and other similar items behind.

Watch out for the potted palm.  The “free” Wi-Fi hotspot you see in the hotel or airport could be a so-called “evil twin” operated by a hacker sitting on the other side of the potted palm in the lobby.  Only use known hotspots and use a VPN (virtual private network) if you need to log into accounts with a username and password.

Travel light.  Leave unnecessary tech gear and jewelry at home and use the in-room safe if leaving valuables in the hotel.

High-tech thieves.  Today’s crooks not only use skimming devices but sometimes install cameras to watch people enter passwords.  Banks are likely to be far safer than standalone ATMs but approach all with caution.

Be social, but not too social.  Thieves monitor your social network’s comings and goings as much as your friends do.  Consider posting “Here I am at…” pictures after your return and avoid checking in if your social network settings don’t restrict this information to close friends.

Avoid crowds.  Pickpockets and con artists prey on tourists at popular attractions.  Keep items in zippered or buttoned pockets and avoid looking too much like a tourist.  Better yet, skirt the crowds wherever and whenever possible.

Pay attention.  This is more about safety but bears mentioning.  Look both ways before crossing – especially in countries where right-hand drive is the rule.  And don’t walk and text.  The number of emergency-room admissions for pedestrians who walk into lampposts while texting has doubled every year for the past five years.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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