Travel and all that it entails makes for an environment ripe with opportunity for theft and scamming. Why? There’s lots of money involved and lots of personal information offered in the purchasing process.

A crowded airport is especially vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves while you're traveling.

A crowded airport is especially vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves while you’re traveling.

There are some simple ways to protect yourself, and, according to a article, you can and should do everything you can to make sure you’re secure before you ever book your first ticket. That security starts with the travel site you choose to use.

Don’t believe those cyber vacation deals that seem too good to be true. Most of the time they are, and, worse yet, instead of a deal you might be getting a nightmare if you find out later what you thought was reputable turns out to be a scam. Stick with the big players with known reputations, read all the fine print, and watch your credit card statement like a hawk.

Don’t fool yourself by believing your mobile device is less susceptible. Charlie Abrahams, senior vice president of MarkMonitor, says the company spends a good deal of time scanning online app stores because, “there are a lot of apps there that are completely fake.”

There are also sites that “illegally pretend to be a site for the purposes of capturing credential information.” Abrahams says the best way to avoid being fooled is to only purchase from well-known app stores such as Google Play or iTunes.

Once you arrive at your destination, you’re not home free. According to Kevin Epstein, vice president of the Threat Operations Center at Proofpoint, “free wifi is the most dangerous cyber vector.” The most notoriously unsecure wifi is at hotels. Epstein says don’t ever use it. He recommends tethering yourself to your phone in order to create your own secure access. If you must use your laptop, be sure you connection is through a full tunnel encrypted VPN. A breach of your corporate laptop could bring trouble to your entire company, so it’s best not to risk it at all.

All this may sound basic, but you can’t afford to be trusting when online anywhere in the world but home. There’s no safe place like it.

Have you ever fallen victim to a scam or hack attack? What tools and steps do you use to avoid it? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Mark Hodson Photos Flickr, Creative Commons)