Let's face it: many of us have that nasty habit of leaving bags, wallets, documents and mobile phones scattered around the house. The home is, after all, a comfort zone.
Threats of identity theft might not readily come to mind when you're just having coffee at your own breakfast nook and you leave your smartphone or bills lying around the kitchen.
But when you're heading out of town for your summer vacation, it's a whole different ballgame where you place your personal items or how you move in a "shared" space.
Homesharing And Ridesharing With Strangers
Your summer vacation can be a little more challenging if you're into the practice of homesharing and ridesharing, which have become the norm of traveling these past few years.
Often, the habits that go unnoticed in your own little corner of home can actually serve as a signal to identity thieves and hackers of a potential prey. One bad habit is being unmindful of your personal belongings while in public spaces.
"Nearly one in four Americans (24 percent), including 41 percent of millennials, have left a valuable personal item in a taxi or ridesharing service," says LifeLock, a company that specializes in identity theft protection services.
How To Avoid Identity Theft When Homesharing And Ridesharing
How do you protect yourself from identity theft when you're homesharing or ridesharing this summer? Tech Times gives you these eight practical tips.
Tip #1: Before leaving home, set up a password with a two-step authentication process for all the accounts and gadgets you'll be using while on vacation. If possible, enable any "find my phone" or "lost phone" location feature on your device so you can pinpoint where the gadget is or wipe the contents through remote access in case you lose it.
Tip #2: Inform your card companies where you'll be heading and how long you'll be out so they can monitor card use and alert you if they pick up any suspicious activity. You'll be depending on your cards heavily when ridesharing.
Tip #3: Ask your friendly neighborhood post office to hold your mail for you while you're out. "Mail theft can lead to identity theft," reminds Paige Hanson, chief of identity education at LifeLock.
Tip #4: Store important documents (birth certificates, marriage license, bank statements, blank checks and even utility bills) in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box.
Tip #5: Bring only two credit or debit cards — not all of your cards. "For added safety," Hanson advises, "carry one card yourself and have your travel buddy carry the other. Put the rest in your safe or safe deposit box."
"Make a list of the phone numbers for your card companies in case your wallet is stolen and you need to get in touch. Don't — I repeat — don't keep this list in your wallet," she adds.
Tip #6: Before hopping out of a ride, check the seat in case you dropped something. Yes, it's that simple.
Tip #7: If you're sharing your home, set up a different Wi-Fi account for guests so your main network doesn't run the risk of getting hacked. "If renters are conducting illegal behavior using your Wi-Fi account," Hanson says, "having a separate account can reduce the negative implications of having it tied to your name."
If you're the guest, on the other hand, opt for your own pocket Wi-Fi. Some countries now offer a pocket Wi-Fi rental service for the duration of a person's trip.
Tip #8: And, of course, always be mindful where you place your personal belongings. Remember: four out of 10 Americans who visit other people's homes admit to snooping around.