In 2013, identity theft claimed a new victim every two seconds, according to findings by Javelin Strategy & Research. Changes to technology, including social networking and mobile device usage, accounted for this increase. When preparing to take your teenagers around the country on a college tour, plan not only for physical safety, but also for identity theft protection. These four tools can help you safeguard your information while you and your family are on the road.
1. RFID Wallet Blocking Card
Advanced credit card technology uses RFID, or radio frequency ID. RFID scanners save businesses time by allowing customers to tap their credit card to a scanner instead of swiping it through a card reader. However, thieves lurking nearby can also grab your credit card information, even from a distance of several feet, with access to a personal RFID scanner. USA Today writer Matt Granite recommends RFID wallet blocking cards that can block up to six different credit cards from RFID scanners. This allows you to use your card at RFID scanners at your convenience, without putting yourself at risk.
2. Identity Security Plan
To combat the rise in identity theft, a growing number of companies offer identity theft security. Services include identity protection, identity recovery, credit monitoring, and more. If someone attempts to steal your credit card number or hack into your online bank account, you will be alerted immediately by text message, phone call, or email. Service providers can also help you fix any problems that arise, and assist with navigating the best resolution if you do fall victim to any kind of theft. This service can be a good catchall in case anything does happen to your personal information. For companies like LifeLock, reviews, pricing plans, and service options are all available online.
3. Virtual Private Network
During your travels, you may need to hop online to check emails or flight information. And although you may have brought along your own mobile device or laptop, you'll need access to the Wi-Fi service of your hotel, cafe, or coffee shop. Whether the establishment allows you to access their Wi-Fi for a small fee, or free of charge, that connection will be public — making your information accessible by anyone with criminal intent. Hackers taking advantage of the same public Wi-Fi connection can steal your personal information, so it's critical not to access password-sensitive information that could give them access to your bank account or anything else of a financial or medical nature. A VPN service safeguards your information by encrypting your browser traffic, thus rendering it unusable to hackers. Low-cost VPN services include TunnelBear and Private Internet Access.
4. Portable Router
For an added layer of security while you are traveling, consider investing in a personal wireless router. While you can create a personal hotspot by tethering a smartphone; some carriers may upcharge for this. A portable router offers free Wi-Fi and comes with a firewall that can block hackers from accessing your information. With a portable router in your hotel room, you can connect everyone's phones or laptops and enjoy safe internet surfing.