Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft at an Airport
Help protect yourself from identity theft at an airport or during any trip by following some basic cyber security measures. Hackers take advantage of hurried and tired travelers in public spaces like airports, coffee shops, and hotels where it’s easy to attempt to steal data or money from hundreds or thousands of people as they pass by. Hackers have some tried-and-true methods of stealing data. A venue like an airport provides plenty of opportunity for hackers to get people’s sensitive data, credit card numbers, login credentials and possibly still actual hardware and putting laptops and phones.c
Can Identity Be Stolen from a Passport?
Losing your passport can lead to serious identity theft. Keep your passport in an RFID blocking wallet. Your passport contains a chip that is read when it is presented at a border. However, the chip can also be read by anyone else with a portable reader as you pass by them in the airport concourse. For under $30 travelers can protect passport data from being read by hackers with by using an RFID blocking passport wallet. They’re available for cheap on Amazon and some decent-looking styles. Keep your passport in the RFID blocking wallet at all times. I keep mine in the RFID wallet while I’m home and I use it every time I fly. You’ll have to remove your passport from the wallet to present it to a border patrol agent.
Use ID Tags with Covers
Every piece of airplane baggage, whether it’s checked or carried-on, must have a name tag attached. This is an opportunity for scammers and hackers to glean quite a bit of information about you. Your baggage tag contains your name, address, phone number and possibly an email address usually in full view.
This is quite a bit of information about you. If the hacker manages to snap a quick photo of you and your baggage tag, they can easily steal your identity. This is preventable by getting a luggage tag that just has a flap over cover. Many bags already come with this kind of tag, but most don’t. Don’t expose your name and personal information and definitely not that of your children that are travelling with you.
Don’t Use Airport WiFi
Airport WiFi, like all public shared WiFi connections, is not secure. Although it may be very tempting with long airport wait times and even worse, a delayed flight, to use the WiFi connection. Using public WiFi opens travelers up to being hacked by a scammer who is monitoring the same WiFi connection. The data sent across a public WiFi connection like that found in airports, hotels, coffee shops. and retail locations can easily be intercepted by a hacker.
Vacationers trying to contact loved ones with travel updates and business travelers in a hurry to reconnect with their office as soon as they land. However, using an airport WiFi connection is an easy way for a hacker to scam any of the information that sent across airport WiFi.
Although posting on social media may not seem like a cyber security risk. Posting to Instagram sends your username and login credentials across the internet connection. People often use the same login information across multiple accounts. So, if your Instagram uses the email address used for your banking app, the hacker already has half the information they need to steal your money.
Instead, use your own wireless data connection service from your wireless carrier. If you’re worried about data overages, use a virtual private network or VPN. A VPN is an app that encrypts all data transmitted from the device it’s installed on. If a hacker intercepts the data, it cannot be read.
Don’t Store Electronics in Checked Baggage
Don’t leave your valuable electronics in checked baggage. When you check in at an airport. Travelers generally are required to arrive anywhere from two to three hours before departure time depending on whether it’s a domestic or international flight.
Baggage is checked immediately and disappears while passengers head to security. In the meantime, the baggage is somewhere below the airport. Thieves have hours to rummage through checked bags and find valuable electronics that contain sensitive personal and financial information. Even if your laptop tablet or phone that you put in checked baggage doesn’t contain copies of your tax returns, it probably contains logins to email accounts, social media, and possibly banking apps.
People tend to use the same usernames and passwords across multiple accounts. Even something like the login credentials to your Facebook account can be used to gather a lot of personal information about someone. A hacker can use that to work their way into more critical accounts like credit cards and bank accounts.
The same goes for using hotel valets and concierge services. Travelers should never leave valuable electronics or any kind of sensitive personal information in bags left with a hotel concierge or bellhop. Although most are honest, some are not.
It’s possible the bellhop could steal information off a laptop or tablet while it’s in storage. Bellhops often need to either deliver or retrieve someone else’s bags and that’s an opportunity for hacker or scammer to steal valuable laptops or the entire bag of itself. One time a friend of mine left her bag just a few feet behind her while she stepped forward to the hotel check-in desk. In just those few seconds, a thief walked calmly by, took her carry- on bag by the handle, by and quietly rolled it away. The theft was captured on a hotel security camera. However, the bag and her laptop that was inside, were never recovered.