Looking forward to traveling this summer? We are too! Here are a few tips you may not have heard before to help keep you safe while out-and-about this summer:
Beware of fraudulent hotel booking sites
According to a 2015 study, 15 million hotel bookings are impacted by travel scams each year. Fake websites or call centers can pretend to have associations with legitimate hotel chains and can lure you into “booking” with them. Interacting with them can cost you your rewards points and credit card information as well as create fake reservations and other logistical hassles.
Our suggestion: Book directly through a hotel’s website (double-check the spelling of the URL!) or call the hotel directly. Exercise caution when booking through a third-party website; only use known and trusted agencies.
Road tripping? Pay inside
Gas stations are not required to adopt credit card chip technology until 2020. Until then, gas stations remain a primary target for skimming machines. While skimmers installed on gas pumps are difficult to detect, you will likely have access to a chip reader if you pay inside. And we recommend paying with cash or credit; keep your debit PIN safe from would-be thieves.
Our suggestion: Keep an eye on your bank statements after you fill up and report any suspicious transactions to your credit card company. Pay inside whenever possible.
Know your rights before you go
If you are traveling abroad, other countries may legally request access to your data. Make sure you are familiar with what kinds of data you may be asked for. Border crossing zones can be tricky to navigate, and knowing your rights can keep your data protected. You may be required to hand over your device and password to enter a new country.
Our suggestion: The best option is to not bring any data that you don’t actually need. This could mean having a travel-specific device or backing up and wiping your devices when you go abroad. If you need to bring sensitive data with you (e.g., research data), double encrypt it.
Use a privacy screen
Keep wandering eyes off of your on-screen activities. A privacy screen will limit the angles by which people can see your screen.
Disable your Bluetooth and auto-connection features for Wi-Fi. Check your settings, as some devices are set to automatically connect to available (and potentially unsecure) wireless networks. Only turn on these features when you actually need them.
Don’t bring too many devices
While it may be tempting to pack your laptop, tablet, smartphone, Switch, and camera for your trip, consider whether you can cut that list down to one or two items. Not only will this give you fewer devices to keep track of, but it will also make it easier to secure those devices while they are not on your person.