Welcome to December: the most joyful month of the year! Many of us look forward to heading home to visit family, while others can’t wait to get away from it all and hit the beach. Either way, millions of us will be passing through airports and train stations to reach our destinations. And while travel can be an exciting, carefree escape, we can’t forget to be on guard for identity thieves. Here are five things to lookout for as you make your way to your yuletide retreat.
1. Avoid USB Charging Stations
We know. Staying connected, even on vacation, is a must for most people. And we’re well aware of the anxiety that follows a low-battery notification. But as you desperately fish out your charging cord, we urge you to avoid USB charging stations. A newer form of identity theft called “juice jacking” allows thieves to transfer your information via USB charging ports. Instead, consider the following:
- Bring a portable charging device
- Use a regular AC plug outlet with your own plug and charging cord
- Bring your own car charger (if you know you’ll be getting a rental car or using a family vehicle)
2. Don’t Let Distractions…Distract You
Often times during travel, things like reading signage, looking for a map, or finding a restroom steals our attention. In these cases, it’s easy for someone to “accidentally” bump into us and swipe whatever’s in reach. Keep valuables safe and secure within inside pockets, front-carried pouches or even in your shoes.
Speaking of shoes, tag-team thieves like to target security lines. One thief goes through security and waits on the other side for their items while the other causes a delay. While you’re waiting–shoeless, phoneless, and, likely, cashless–thief number one is ready to nonchalantly swipe your belongings on the other side. Keep a watchful eye on your items as they reach the end of the conveyor belt. Notify a TSA agent immediately if you see someone take them.
3. Turn Down Unsolicited Taxi Rides
Most domestic airports have official taxi stands with an attendant to help you secure a taxi. Keep in mind, taxis aren’t cheap. So, should someone approach you offering an inexpensive taxi service, resist the temptation. If you were to accept, they could hold you hostage until you pay them an absurd amount, or worse, rob you completely. If you’re unsure where to pickup a taxi, look for signage by baggage claim or ask a TSA agent. If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, they likely have a free shuttle service to and from the airport. Confirm with your hotel ahead of time and look for signage that says “Shuttles” or “Buses”. If you are travelling abroad, research the ground transportation options for your destination.
4. Use Bluetooth in Hidden Mode
Bluetooth allows information transfer, thus it’s the perfect gateway for an identity thief. While you are in public places, such as an airport or train station, make sure your Bluetooth is not set to “discoverable”. This way, thieves are unable to try to “pair” with your device and steal your information.
5. Use Your Hotel Safe
All hotel rooms have a safe: use it! Though they vary in size, it’s important that you put as many valuables in there as you can. While most of the time hotel staff leave your personal belongings alone, there are many cases of theft, especially if the items are tempting. Consider always locking up the following:
- Personal documents (passport, license, etc.)
- Money (cash, credit/debit cards, etc.)
- Devices (phone, tablets, laptops, etc.)
- Other Valuables (jewelry, any technology, expensive items, etc.)
Is it a pain? You bet. But it’s better than having your vacation (or more) ruined due to theft.
Leisure travel is a time for fun and relaxation. Don’t let a thief ruin it! We hope you’ll take note of these tips: save the link, screenshot it, or share it with your travel companion. But most of all, we hope you enjoy your trip – happy holidays!