As your financial advisors, we want to remind you that the “bad actors” who want to compromise your security online don’t take vacations. Instead, they have an eye out for when you do. Here’s how to keep them from compromising your online safety while you travel.
Before You Go
Sign Up for Fraud Alerts from Your Financial Institutions
Many major banks and credit cards can send you free alerts by text, email or phone call if you have a suspicious transaction. Be sure to call and see if this service is available, and that you have it activated before you leave on vacation.
Turn Off Location Services, and Auto Connect for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on Your Devices
These can be a great convenience, helping you move seamlessly through your day. But, if you leave them on while you are on vacation, anyone sitting nearby – say in a hotel or coffee shop – can track you or get access to your data. If you take your laptop, turn off auto file sharing, too.
Enable Pins & Pass Codes on Your Devices
This is your first line of defense in case your phone is lost or stolen. Also, check to be sure it’s set to require the password in the shortest amount of time. Annoying for you – but even more annoying for the “bad actors”.
Install Anti-virus Protection
Be sure all your devices are equipped with virus protection, and that it’s running the latest updates.
While You’re Away
Use Only Password Protected Wi-Fi from Networks You Recognize
Avoid “free” public Wi-Fi – you might pay the price of giving the bad actors access to your information. Most hotels (and even some restaurants) have password-protected networks.
Don’t Post Your Vacation on Social Media While You’re Away
Even if you or one of your family members is “Instagram Famous,” stay off of social media platforms while you’re away. Your posts are broadcasting to strangers that your home is vacant, as well as giving plenty of clues when you’re not at your hotel, too. Post highlights from your trip when you get back.
Be Careful on Public Computers
If you use a public computer – in your hotel business center or an internet café, for example – be sure to log out of any accounts you accessed before leaving. (And you should note that if you do need to check financial accounts, it’s usually safest to do it from a wired connection – not Wi-Fi – or a cellular on your phone.) Also, if a URL starts with “https”//” it means you have a more secure connection.