Protecting Your Personal Information While Abroad Whether you are planning a family trip, romantic getaway or important conference for work, you should take a number of precautionary measures to protect the identity and privacy of yourself and others. You've undoubtedly thought about packing a digital camera, laptop, smartphone or PDA; if you are traveling abroad, you will need your passport and other identification. Before you depart, spend a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these guidelines for protecting your personal information while you are away from home. People are always finding new ways to share their favorite images with friends and family, which is why so many have turned to social media sites to document their lives. Some even use features that automatically upload images from their phone or wireless device the moment the photo is taken. In theory, it works well, but only if your life is truly an open book. Before you depart, double-check your sharing settings and make temporary adjustments if needed. Remember: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...unless your photos automatically post to Facebook. If you are traveling overseas, your passport is an absolute must. However, this doesn't mean that you should keep it on your person while you sample local restaurants or shop for souvenirs; it's a risky move. Instead of taking a gamble, lock important documents in the hotel safe, if one is available. We all like to believe that traveling abroad is 100% safe and immune to criminal activity. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people are in every city, state and country. While you are away from home, safeguard your information by using password protection on all electronic devices, including smartphones, laptops and PDAs. During and after your trip, keep a close eye on your banking accounts and financial statements. If for some reason you notice a discrepancy or possible act of fraud, a quick response can save you a great deal of trouble down the road. If you sign up for credit report monitoring, you will be alerted almost immediately of suspicious activity. Unless you are traveling for business reasons, you should carefully consider whether or not to bring your laptop computer. Ask yourself if you plan to use it in your room, or will you be spending more time taking in sights? You might be surprised what criminals can glean from your laptop: credit card numbers, contact the information, bank accounts and other highly private data. If you decided to leave your laptop at home but find yourself in need of Internet access, exercise caution while using public computers. Many networks automatically log users off at the end of a session, but this is no means universal. Take a few seconds to verify that you are completely logged off. Ultimately, it's by better safe than sorry. While many of these guidelines seem somewhat stringent, each one is another way to protect yourself from unfortunate mishaps. Don't let your dream vacation turn into a nightmare by setting yourself up for dangerous or risky situations. After all, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; enjoy it wisely.
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