6 ways to protect yourself against a data breach

August 9, 2016 Liz Salkin

The threat of credit card data breaches and hacks throughout companies is unfortunately becoming more common as the world expands globally and technologically. As a traveler, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not a stranger will gain access to your personal and company information through your credit card or other means. While this may not be completely preventable, there are ways to increase your protection throughout your travels.    

1. Update all passwords for increased safety and security

This one may seem obvious, but many people forget about it. We’re all guilty of mindlessly typing in a random, easy-to-remember password. The simpler your password is, the easier it is to hack. Create a combination for your accounts that ensures increased safety. The more numbers, upper and lowercase letters and symbols you add, the more secure your password becomes. Don’t make the same password for every account. If you’re worried about forgetting, there are apps available such as 1Password and Keeper where you can securely store passwords and confidential information. 

2. Monitor your bank and credit card statements

Keep track and check all your statements on a regular basis, especially in the months after traveling. If you’re still getting charges from Boston even though you’re back home in Seattle, obviously something isn’t right. In these situations, contact your bank immediately so they can take proper measures to ensure the cancellation of your card. Also notify your bank of any upcoming travels. This way, your card won’t be frozen if your bank is aware you are traveling and they can keep an eye out for any fishy transactions that may occur during or after your trip.

3. Update the way you pay

It might also be time to think about using an updated way to pay. Services such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Paypal encrypt credit cards with new tokens each time you pay. Your actual number is never used or given out to any retailers, which means your information is less likely to be exposed in the event of a breach. Not every retailer has this feature enabled yet; however, it’s continuing to grow as more stores, hotels and even online retailers are realizing the benefits that it produces.

For business travelers, check to see if your travel management company offers a secure virtual payment option. For instance, Travel and Transport's Secure Pay generates a virtual, on-time use credit card for hotel bookings. Secure Pay significantly cuts down on the risk of fraudulent activity that can occur with a ghost card by assigning a new card number for each hotel booking. 

4. Ditch the PIN 

If you need to use a debit card, ask the cashier to run your card as credit and sign for your purchase instead of typing in a PIN number. Hackers who gain access to PIN numbers can print out a copy of your card and actually take money out of an ATM.

5. Make sure it's secure

Are you interacting with a business online? Make sure that any personally identifiable information you transmit via a website or form is secure. This includes anything from credit card numbers to even your name, address, phone number and email. A recent airline data breach was related to a customer contact form. Look for the "https://" prefix in your browser's address bar, and you can even click the little lock symbol to find out more about the type of encryption that is used. This is a tip directly from Travel and Transport's own data security department and all of our forms meet this standard. Contact us and see for yourself!

6. When in doubt? Pay cash

If these options still aren’t protective enough, put away your credit card and use cash whenever possible. Although this might be considered “old school” and it isn't always an option for business travelers who use a corporate card and have to file expenses, it can be an effective option for leisure travelers. Your information can’t be hacked if your credit card is safely tucked away in your wallet. This not only provides a safer way to pay, but it also allows you to budget your expenses accordingly if you know you only have a certain amount of cash to use.

Before you travel, take out a designated amount of cash to use when purchasing. If you need more cash, look for ATMs inside reputable businesses and banks and check to make sure that ATM skimmer devices have not been installed.  Always cover the PIN keypad with your hand to ensure that nobody watches you enter your code.

Traveling can be stressful, but don’t let credit card fraud get in the way of an otherwise enjoyable trip. Taking a few extra moments to protect your card safety can make a huge difference when it comes to securing your data.

Did we miss anything? Let us know your card safety tips in the comments below!  

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