Summer. That single word conjures up an entire season’s worth of activities: day trips, weddings, BBQs, vacations, family reunions, and so much more. Summer is all about having fun and being carefree, just like when we were kids and summer meant no more school and endless adventures.
However, now that most of us are “adulting” we should probably pay a little more attention to our safety. Maybe going outside without sunscreen isn’t such a good idea any more, and neither is summering unsafely online — especially now that social media has become such a big part of our social lives, and we expose a lot of personal information that could put our identities in danger.
Boost your SPF (Social Privacy Factor) to keep yourself from getting burned. You might be surprised by how your everyday online habits could target you for identity theft or fraud this summer — and every day. A worry-free summer is within your reach if you take these simple steps to keep you safer all season long.
Why to ready-set-summer safer
Identity theft strikes summer travelers online and offline. Pickpockets may nick your passport, but cybercriminals can steal your identity just as easily, undetected. When online, make sure you transact on websites with URLs that start with “https” and show a lock symbol in the browser bar. This goes for banks, airlines, hotels, and ride services. If you’re using apps on a mobile device, only download them from trusted app stores. Or use Norton Mobile Security’s App Advisor to alert you to bad apps.
When offline, start the summer by cleaning out your wallet and only carrying the credit cards and ID you really need. Before going away on vacay, put your mail delivery on hold to make sure identity thieves can’t sift through it to steal your identity. Then, don’t leave your passport, driver’s license, and other personally identifiable information lying around hotel rooms.
In addition, you could take an extra step and sign up for an identity theft protection service that will monitor for fraudulent uses of your information. LifeLock is one such service that will send you alerts1 for potential identity theft, and will work with you to help resolve the issue if identity theft does occur.
How to social-(media)-ize safely
Now that you’ve prepped for your summer adventure, you can start to relax. But keep on applying that Social Privacy Factor to safeguard your identity.
Summer vacations mean one thing: selfie time! j/k, but you likely will be taking photos of famous landmarks, your super cute kids with their favorite cartoon characters, or — admit it — yourself, as you capture vacay memories. There’s nothing unsafe about taking photos; the risk factor lies in how you share them.
Protect yourself on public Wi-Fi
If you want to post photos in the moment on social media, you might be using public Wi-Fi to make yourself Instafamous. Do so with caution. Using public Wi-Fi exposes your personal identity and private information to possible theft.
Unless you use a virtual private network, like Norton WiFi Privacy, anybody else on the same shared, public Wi-Fi hotspot could eavesdrop on your information. You may not care about having a stranger see the photos you’re about to post publicly anyway, but you should care about your emails, social media logins and passwords, and any other personally identifying information on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
VPN and chill
Think you’re safer using Wi-Fi hotspots inside trusted institutions such as airports, museums, or hotels? Not necessarily. It’s impossible to verify whether these networks are using solid security settings. Since hackers could be on the same Wi-Fi network trying to steal your personal information to open credit cards, personal loans, and more in your name, it’s better to be wary of public Wi-Fi.
A good way to keep your personal information private on public Wi-Fi is to use a VPN, which will encrypt data leaving or entering your laptop or mobile device and prevent it from being accessed so you won’t become a victim of identity theft.
What to share online safely: graduations, weddings, vacations
How you post to your social networks is not the only time you could use an online safety check. Now that it’s a habit for us to post frequent updates of our lives online, it’s what you post that could also increase your need for SPF. There are so many celebratory events that come with summer — like graduations, family vacations, block parties, and impromptu BBQs — that you could easily put your privacy and safety in danger if you’re not careful.
Don’t be guilty of TMI
Consider the best-known summer celebration: weddings. June has always been a popular month for weddings, but many of us have summer weddings crowding our calendars all season long. Whether you’re part of the wedding party or one of the guests, what you share about the special celebration could result in wedding crashing.
If you’re the bride or groom, be cautious about what you share online and how. According to CNBC.com, thieves have been known to scour online wedding announcements and even publicly shared social accounts for wedding details that can help them ruin the special day.2 Save the specifics for the private invitations being sent to invited celebrants so you don’t have unwanted guests crashing the party — or unattended homes.
Watch what you say and post
Also be careful if you’re on an extended family vacation. Before you post that perfect selfie on the rim of the Grand Canyon with a caption like, “Finally made it! Can’t wait for the 5-day river rafting adventure to begin!” think about how much of your personal information is available online. If your account handle uses your full, real name and you publicly display which town you live in, chances are somebody could look up your address and know that your unoccupied home is a great target for burglary.
Your summer SPF top 5 to-dos
Sunscreen isn’t the only protection you’ll need this summer. Here’s our list of five easy tips and tricks to keep your identity safe and your summer carefree:
- Get prepared. Clean out your wallet and bag before hitting the road to reduce potential damages due to loss or theft. There’s no need to bring every bank and credit card along for the adventure. You should also decide which devices you’ll travel with, then make sure the operating systems and apps are updated to limit your chances of having your vacay derailed by a virus. Norton Security Premium offers protection for multiple devices.
- Beware of travel scams. Be on the alert for phishing emails and digital ads promoting travel sales. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t click on links. It’s better to Google the company and type in the website URL yourself.
- Keep your card companies in the know. Tell your credit card companies where you’re going in advance. Doing so will alert them to watch for unauthorized card use. Taking a credit card instead of a debit card is also a wise move. There are more protections in the event that you run into trouble, like having your card skimmed at an ATM or gas station.
- Secure your home. Technology like webcams and motion-sensor alarms can help monitor your home when you’re not there. But if you have a smart home full of connected personal devices, you could add another layer of protection with a Norton Core secure router. You’ll be able to check for unusual activity on your network when you’re not home via the mobile app,3 and you can even choose which devices should remain connected when you’re away.
- Post a #latergram. The world and potential identity thieves don’t need to know your location or that you’re away from home. If you just can’t wait to post, using a #latergram hashtag could confuse potential burglers into thinking you’re back home.
Whatever your summer plans, you don’t have to give up fun to be safe. We hope these tips will increase your Social Privacy Factor so you can enjoy your summer safely and securely.
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