When we think of summer safety, we tend to think of our physical security first. Accidents at the pool or beach, exposure to sun or heat, and crimes in far-away places are big concerns. But as the temperature rises, it’s important to also keep identity protection at the top of the list.
What does summer have to do with identity theft? Everything. What makes summer so great—long, lazy days and a devil-may-care attitude—can leave your personally identifiable information vulnerable to a thief.
So even though the end of the school year is almost here, take a look at this quick pop quiz:
Planning a vacation
- If you’re traveling with your family this summer, will you be booking that trip online?
- Did you check out the website to make sure it has an HTTPS security designation before entering credit card info?
- Is it a reputable travel company, or did you click on a flashy banner ad that promised a $99 Bahamas vacation?
- If you received an email or social media link for a “hot deal” on a vacation rental, did you check with the property management company first to make sure it wasn’t a travel scam?
At your destination
- Did you watch the front desk clerk swipe your card, or did the clerk take it to another spot to run it, possibly creating a copy of your credit card on a blank magnetic stripe room key?
- Are you connecting your devices over the hotel’s unsecure Wi-Fi?
- While connected to the hotel’s unsecured Wi-Fi, are you logging into your banking or credit card accounts?
- Before you head out to do something fun, did you remember to passcode protect your phone in case it’s stolen?
- Do your kids know how to avoid email phishing scams?
- Most important of all, do your kids know how to stay safe on social media?
- Have you talked to your kids about the dangers of online predators and cyberbullying?
- Do you have strong parental controls on your Internet connection—especially if your kids will be using the connection during the day while you’re at work—and do you know how to check the browser history?
Whew! How do you think you did? Luckily for all of us, this test isn’t graded and it isn’t going on our permanent records. If anything, the staggering rates of identity theft prove that we could all use a little refresher on preventing the loss of our data.
Hopefully these questions give you something to think about before summer arrives. You can’t let your guard down where your identity is concerned just because you’re enjoying a slightly more relaxed atmosphere. Fortunately, making good safeguards a year-round habit means you won’t have to spend so much time worrying about protecting your information.
Eva Velasquez is president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.