School’s out, which means summer vacation season is here. It also means identity thieves are chomping at the bit, knowing the warm weather means an increase in travel and related purchases, which translates into opportunity. While you can’t always prevent your credit card information or other personal data from being stolen, there are several steps you and your customers can take to help ensure identity theft doesn’t turn into identity fraud. It’s one thing to have to replace stolen or compromised credit cards, but it’s an entirely more complicated, time consuming, and costly task to repair credit once fraud has been perpetuated – or if your corporate credentials have led to a more significant security breach.

Let your financial institutions know you’ll be traveling.

Most banks are quick to block transactions that are out of character – which includes point-of-sale transactions in new geographies, unusual purchases or activities, and even just very high transaction amounts. Knowing where and when you are traveling will allow your banks to better protect you during and after your trip.

Use caution when accessing public WiFi

When accessing free public WiFi networks, you are putting yourself at risk. Hackers can easily intercept traffic and gain access your device and accounts. Be aware of fake “free” access that requires you to install software – that should be a red flag.  If you are going to use public WiFi, make sure to only use networks that require log-in. While they aren’t foolproof by any means, they do provide an added layer of security over open APs. Do not access your bank accounts initiate transactions unless you know you are on a secure network.  It’s hard, but resisting the urge to log onto social media constantly can be the difference between being exposed and not.

Be cautious with ATMs

Scammers are notorious for retrofitting ATM machines with skimming devices that read your card data, allowing thieves to create false cards with your account information and selling it or making purchases themselves. Be aware of anything the looks out of place, and don’t be afraid to jiggle the card reader – if it feels loose or oversized, best to keep away. Also, never give out your PIN or write it on the back of your card.

Don’t overstuff your wallet

Tourists are easy marks – they tend to carry fat wallets with their cash and credit cards. Carry only the cash you need for the day, and there’s no need to bring more than one (maybe two at most) credit cards. If your wallet looks overly full, you’re only inviting pickpockets and scammers who are ready to pray on your vacation habits and walk away with your cash and identity.

Lock screens and Find My iPhone

Common sense suggests you have a lock screen enabled at all times, but many people don’t, simply to save a few seconds. If your phone is stolen, a lock screen can keep your personal information and account data from being stolen. Phone tracking software can help you quickly locate your device if it is stolen or lost.

Complex authentication

Whenever possible, make use of more complex indentify verification methods. While two-factor authentication may seem like hassle, it makes it much harder for your data to be stolen. Similarly, voice authentication may seem like an extraneous step, but it provides a unique identifier that is much harder to breach than other password-driven authentication protocols. Increasingly, financial institutions and other organizations are adoption voice and other biometric authentication methods in an effort to reduce fraud and protect revenue.

To understand how voice authentication can help keep you and your customers safe, read more.

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