When jetting off on a foreign vacation, most travelers take the time to understand the safety risks specific to their chosen destination. However, traveling increases the risk of identify theft and home invasion, with 9 percent of U.S. travelers experiencing fraud or identity theft as of June 2014. Whether you’re exploring the Mediterranean coast or yachting through the Caribbean, protecting your valuable assets should be a priority.
Prevent a Home Invasion
While there’s no foolproof way to prevent someone from breaking into your home, it’s smart to take preventive measures. Before you leave, create a home inventory with pictures to provide your insurance company in case of theft. While you’re traveling, ask a friend or relative to check on your home periodically.
For additional peace of mind, you can use your computer’s webcam as a security camera. Just leave your computer in a central area and use Yawcam (Windows) or iAlertU (Mac) to check in while you’re away. Even if you have a home security system, this additional layer of protection can bring you peace of mind.
Establish a Secure Wi-Fi Connection
Perhaps you’re waiting in the airport, suffering from unending flight delays. Or you’ve popped into a Parisian cafe and want to take a few minutes to check your bank account. No matter how tempting that public (and probably free) Wi-Fi may be, it can place you and your assets at serious risk. One work-around for this problem is to purchase a subscription to a service like Boingo, which provides premium networks across the globe. An alternative is to increase your cellphone’s data plan, allowing you to tether your laptop to your smartphone while you’re on the go.
Download a “Find My Phone” App
There’s nothing more disastrous that losing your phone or having it stolen while you’re abroad. After a theft, a person can access your photos, personal information, contacts, and even banking information. To stay one step ahead of the thieves, install FindMyiPhone or a similar app before you leave. The app permits GPS tracking, giving the police a way to find your phone. Additionally, these apps allow you to remotely reset your passcode. If privacy and security are a high concern, you can remotely wipe your data to prevent it from falling into someone else’s hands.
Use a Mobile Wallet
That luxury Italian leather wallet is a thing of the past. Smartphones are the new wallets, with millions of people around the globe adopting an easier approach to transactions. Using your mobile wallet for transactions abroad is quick and easy, preventing you from carrying excess currency. Using a data protection service like Lifelock will protect your assets while upholding the convenience of a mobile wallet.
Monitor Your Accounts
Whether you’re planning to use a credit card or get cash from ATMs, you’ll need access to your bank accounts while abroad. To decrease your risk of fraud, set up online account monitoring before you leave. An account monitoring services can send you an alert via text or email if there is suspicious account activity (often a single withdrawal greater than a threshold you set). Although banks are usually very responsive about restoring your funds, catching the fraudulent transactions early helps.
Employ RFID Protection
Most credit cards have embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which allow scammers to steal credit card information using a scanning device. Invest in an RFID-protecting handbag or wallet to block the signal and prevent high-tech identity theft.