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CHIPS Articles: Keep security in mind on your summer vacation

Keep security in mind on your summer vacation
By Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist, Federal Trade Commission - July 18, 2017
When you travel, there probably are a few must-haves in your suitcase: your toothbrush, deodorant, socks, shoes — you get the idea. But one travel must-have we don’t always think about is security. While you’re away from home, you might be using public Wi-Fi, tagging your locations (whether or not you realize it), carrying around your passport, and using your credit card more often. Those things could put you at a higher risk of identity theft.

Here are some security tips to help keep you safe this summer — and beyond:

  • Keep your software — operating system, web browsers & apps — up to date to protect against the latest malware threats. Most software can update automatically. Set yours to do so.
  • Don’t assume a Wi-Fi hotspot is secure. Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, airports, hotels, and other public places often are not secure. To protect your information when using wireless hotspots, send information only to websites that are fully encrypted, and avoid using mobile apps that require personal or financial information.
  • If you often use Wi-Fi when you travel, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your device and the VPN provider’s network. That allows you to securely connect to the internet by keeping your exchanges private while you use Wi-Fi.
  • Typically, you pay for an app or service that allows you to use a VPN. Some VPNs are more secure and easier to use than others, so shop around. Read reviews from several sources, including impartial experts.
  • Check the location services in your phone’s settings. If you don’t want to share where you are, consider turning off location services. If you use social media apps, check the default settings to know if your location is posted along with photos or check-in’s.
  • Act quickly if sensitive information gets lost or exposed. That means your Social Security number, passport, driver’s license, credit or debit information. Our resources at can help you recover.

For more information on how to stay secure all year round, sign up for our blog updates and scam alerts.

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