Don’t Fall For These Common Travel Scams

Free wifi access on smartphone

There’s more to travel than road trips and games, as travelers can be prime targets for scams. To make sure you keep every cent in your pocket, we’ve listed the most common scams to watch out for.

‘Free’ Wi-Fi: You might think you’re being slick by “booting” free Wi-Fi at the airport, but think again. That fake access point could cost you, says Robert Siciliano, an online security expert with McAfee.

“Bad guys are setting up fake access points that are called an evil twin,” he explains. “They’ll often have names like AT&T free Wi-Fi, but really it’s just some guy sitting in the terminal with a router who’s watching all the traffic go through that device, including your bank activity, passwords and usernames.”

In general, avoid using a free wireless connection for surfing and opt for a paid connection like 3G or 4G instead. You can also count on a VPN (virtual private network), which works like a tunnel to encrypt your data and connect you to the Web. With a VPN, even if you’re using an ‘evil twin,’ you can still surf with ease. Just don’t forget to turn off any file sharing programs before you log on.

Travelers should also be cautious when they get to the hotel. “Hijackers can get into your device, connect with you and set up a pop-up that will say something with regards to connecting or downloading, and ultimately infect your machine,” Siciliano warns.

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Which is More Secure: Filing Taxes Online or on Paper?

When tax season comes around, taxpayers have two options for filing their taxes: paper or electronic filing. While some taxpayers have strong opinions about which one is better for them, an important question they should all ask themselves is which is more secure? With the increase in the risk of identity theft and tax fraud, consumers should be careful how they file their taxes and consider the advantages and risks of electronic or paper filing.

Filing Taxes Online

Although more consumers have shifted to filing online these days, they may question whether e-filing offers the most security for their tax and personal information. Recently, TurboTax stopped electronic filing for state returns after there were reports of an increase in tax fraud, The Wall Street Journal reported. While the company’s website itself was not compromised, identity thieves were more likely to file fake tax returns using an electronic filing service.

How to be more secure: As consumers file their taxes online, they should be sure to avoid Internet-based tax scams. Consumers may receive emails from senders claiming they are with the IRS, prompting taxpayers to resend their personal information. When filing electronically, consumers should make sure their devices are free of malware, a risk that could allow cybercriminals to access their information remotely, according to the IRS. Taxpayers should also send their information through secure Internet connections.

Filing on Paper

On the other hand, some consumers prefer filing their taxes on paper because they are most familiar with this method. However, there are certain risks involved as identity thieves could attempt to steal important paper documents from taxpayers or by dumpster diving for documents that were thrown away.

How to be more secure: Whether taxpayers do their own taxes or hire a certified tax preparer, they should keep any paper documents and copies secure. Taxpayers should ensure they prevent sensitive documents containing their personal information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth from falling into the hands of would-be identity thieves. Consumers can either shred these documents or lock them away in a safe. They could also consider locking their mailboxes to avoid identity thieves from pilfering their mail without consumers’ knowledge.

As consumers consider the benefits and disadvantages of filing their taxes online or through mail, they should decide how they could improve their personal information’s security to avoid becoming a victim of tax fraud and identity theft.