How to Protect Yourself When Using Money Transfer Apps

February 5, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

The ability to transfer money through mobile apps is growing in popularity, especially as more new services are created to make it possible. There are two popular apps that people are turning to, which means there’s also a growing opportunity for fraud and theft, so it’s important that you protect yourself.

Instead of people watching you pass along cash, there are hackers watching your transactions when you use these apps. Like any online transaction, there are inherent risks for someone to either take your money or find a way to access your account whenever they want. Taking a few precautions now can save you time, money and a big headache later.

Jason Glassberg, a cybersecurity expert and co-founder of Casaba Security recently told Travel and Leisure that individuals should “think of hackers like car thieves—they’re much more likely to steal a vehicle with the key in the ignition and windows down than one that’s locked and alarmed.”

Keeping your accounts secure on any of these peer-to-peer apps can be simple and keep pesky scammers away. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself on Venmo, PayPal, Cash, Apple Pay, and Google Wallets.

Use a complex password. Yeah, it’s tempting to want to use one password for several accounts. Simple passwords are easier to remember, but complex ones are more difficult to hack. Choose a unique password—one that’s long and confusing. We recommend using a password vault to generate and store passwords (vaults like 1Password and LastPass will even sync your passwords between devices), and then just retrieve them as you need them.

The generated passwords can be long multi-character creations like DJ!&a9m1jqz* or diminish-coffee-whale-nodule. You won’t remember them, but that’s what the password vault is for.

A woman holding a mobile phone, looking at her PayPal app. You need to protect yourself when you transfer money this way.Or if you need to, you can always create a long passphrase that you’ll easily remember, like ILeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco. It will be easier to crack than a random password, but it’s a lot harder than if you’d used passw0rd!.

Set up two-factor authentication. This is where, after you fill in your password, the app texts you a 6-digit code. Fill in that 6-digit code on the app, and you’re in. This way, if your ID and password are known to someone else, they still need your phone to finish the transaction. In other words, the app is “double-checking” to make sure it’s you.

Once you’ve started the transaction, double-check and triple-check to make sure the details are accurate. Accounts can be created to look almost identical to the one you’re looking for, so use caution. Remember: once you send a payment, the money leaves your account and cannot be returned. If necessary, call the person you’re sending the money to in order to confirm their receipt.

In order for these apps to send money, they need to be linked to a financial source. Your safest choice? Use a credit card and not a debit card. Credit cards offer a lot more protection than a bank’s debit card. For one thing, you could be responsible for all the missing funds with a debit card, but the credit card may charge you as much as $50 for fraudulent charges. Keep in mind that some credit cards may charge a processing fee to use it, but you’ll get peace of mind for as much as 1–3 percent.

The network you use is just as important as the card, password, and authentication process you choose. Financial transactions on public wifi networks (airports, restaurants, libraries) are at increased risk. You’re better off using a password protected wifi or your cellular network to protect yourself (turn off the wifi on your phone to make sure you’re only using the cellular network). And remember to update your apps and operating system because newer versions offer more protection than older software.

Turn on notifications for your finance apps and you’ll be alerted to any issues as soon as they happen. The more you know about your accounts, the better, and the sooner you can get them resolved. Even something as simple as receiving a text for every transaction can keep you updated on your account.

When you’re finished with your transaction, be sure to completely sign out of your account, don’t just close the app. By not signing out, your session remains active and someone can open the window and still be logged in.

Finally, one option is to have only one device strictly for payments. A separate smartphone will keep you safer since you’re not visiting other websites, playing games, or running other software. This solution is a bit more costly, but it offers the most protection. If you still have an old phone, you could use it for this purpose. Delete all the data, update operating systems and payment apps, and you’ve got a dedicated payment device.

Peer-to-peer payment apps are a great way to get money into the hands of someone quickly and conveniently, especially if you take a few simple safety precautions. How do you protect yourself and make sure your financial transactions are safe while still using your mobile phone to send and receive money? Share your tips, suggestions, and ideas on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Monito.com (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Five Ways to Watch TV & Movies while Traveling

October 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Binge watching is sometimesone of the only things that makes a long-haul flight, road trip, or long-distance traveling tolerable. If you want to catch up on your favorite TV series or stream a movie you didn’t see in the theater, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to access media content on the road. You just need to plan ahead.

1. Download content from Hulu or Netflix

You can watch Hulu Plus or Netflix on different electronic devices while traveling.While Hulu and Netflix are great for streaming your favorite shows and movies, they’ve both recently begun allowing people to download content to be watched later. Before you start traveling, while you’re still on wifi, download as many episodes or films as your device will hold (don’t forget to save room for photos on your phone!)

2. Buy it on iTunes

If you don’t have Netflix or Hulu, or the content you want isn’t available for download, see if you can find it on iTunes and buy or rent it there. If you buy it, you have the added bonus of always owning that content, so you can watch it over and over to your heart’s desire. But you can only watch the Netflix/Hulu content for a limited time. If it’s ever removed from the streaming services, your copy will be lost as well.
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Prepare Your Phone for Your Next International Trip

January 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Preparing for an international trip with your mobile phone requires research and planning. Get off the plane and just start using it, and you’ll be hit with a variety of fees and roaming charges, easily racking up several hundred dollars in a single week.

Whether you need the ability to call or just the ability to access data and text, the following tips will help you utilize your device to its fullest while keeping overall costs down.

Know your phone and your plan

All phones use either GSM (Global System for Mobiles) or CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) as their radio systems to communicate with cell towers. GSM phones are unlocked and can be used with any carrier, while CDMA phones are locked to a specific carrier.

Business travelers have a few hacks they could use to help save money on their next international trip.

Read through your plan to make sure you know what the charges will be for international use, or if you’ll even be able to use your phone while abroad. If you have a GSM phone, you can switch out your SIM card with one in the country you’re visiting (more on that later). Otherwise, you may be able to purchase a temporary plan through your carrier.

If you have a CDMA phone, you may want to buy a pay-as-you-go phone once you arrive in your destination country.
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This Travel Scam Hacks Your Phone

December 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

File this under the category “Now We’ve Heard Everything.” According to an article in Smarter Travel, the latest scam to target travelers involves what’s called “juice-jacking.” Travelers desperate for a charge plug into a public charging station that, unbeknownst to them, is masquerading as a data port to steal their phone’s private and personal data.

Once a phone is connected to the station, everything on the device is downloadable: passwords, photos, emails, messages, bank account information. Worse yet, additional malware might also be infecting the device. How can you protect yourself against this new hacking method?

Using a battery pack instead of an almost-too-convenient charging station can help you avoid the juice-jacking travel scam.

Using a battery pack instead of an almost-too-convenient charging station can help you avoid the juice-jacking travel scam.

For one thing, be wary of public USB-friendly charging stations. There’s a chance that it’s a bogus charging station, and instead of just charging your batteries, you could give hackers access to your mobile device.

Instead, always travel with your own power pack. Some of our new Crew™ 11 Carry-on models feature a built-in battery pocket and external USB port. No more digging for your accessories or relying on potentially unsafe charging stations. Just plug your battery into the internal charging USB cord, and then plug your normal charging cord into the port on the back of your luggage.
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Road Warrior Tips: Managing Electronics and Battery Life

December 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a road warrior’s constant battle, managing battery life. We all rely on our phones and tablets to provide information and entertainment while we’re on the go. Following these simple tips will help you enjoy your travel instead of worrying about when the red battery icon will appear.

Travelpro Crew 11 USB Port

The Crew 11’s built-in power port is a great way to keep your mobile devices powered up and ready to go.

  • Investigate the different online storage platforms available and choose one place to access your documents and pictures. Apple supports iCloud, Google has Google Drive, and Dropbox is a third party provider that works on all platforms. Evernote is another cross-device, cross-platform option.
  • Before you leave, download any new apps you might need, like a currency converter if you’re going overseas, or a maps app or guidebook that will help you navigate a new city. You’ll not only save battery life, you’ll conserve data by planning ahead. Read more

Key to Saving Cell Phone Battery Is Not Closing Apps

August 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re an avid cell phone user, preserving battery life can be an all-consuming obsession. You limit your data usage, you only operate certain mobile apps on wifi, and you may even avoid some of the data hogs your colleagues all swear by.

Closing your mobile apps on your cell phone won't necessarily conserve your battery life.

Closing your mobile apps won’t necessarily conserve your battery life.

One thing we’ve always thought about battery extension was that we should close our dormant apps instead of leaving them open.

Turns out, that’s just not true.

According to an Apple support page, “apps that are in a suspended state aren’t actively in use, open, or taking up system resources.”

Android users can also rejoice. According to an ABC News story, David Burke, the vice president of engineering at Android, agrees. “It’s simply not true.”

He says just the opposite occurs when you go to close those apps to conserve power. Closing them actually activates them momentarily which may drain more power than just leaving them in their suspended state.

So, if closing apps is unhelpful, what can you do?
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Protect Your Identity and Your Technology While Traveling

July 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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 CIO.com 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.”
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Emirates Introduces Wireless Charging in Its Lounges

December 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re so connected to our phones that it almost seems we need a tiny suitcase dedicated to their accessories. If you want your favorite handheld device to be fully juiced before your cross-country flight, you need to be sure to pack the phone’s charger and charging cord, and then you will need an open outlet near the gate where you’re waiting to board your flight.

Not if you’re flying Emirates Airline in Dubai.

According to a Future Travel Experience article, Emirates recently installed inductive, wireless charging trays in its first and business class waiting lounges. While these trays aren’t new to the market, this is one of the first instances where they have been deployed in a consumer environment.

An example of an inductive charging platform. Just set the phone on the pad, and the battery charges without wires.

An example of an inductive charging platform. Just set the phone on the pad, and the battery charges without wires.

This is one time when Android users triumph over Apple users because Android phones are equipped to sync with wireless charging stations, while Apple is still working on their proprietary wireless charging technology.

Mohammed Mattar, divisional senior vice president of Emirates Airport Services explained the decision. “Our aspiration is to provide greater comfort for our customers and a hassle-free, seamless travel experience. Mobile devices are an intrinsic part of our lives, and at Emirates we see free wifi and wireless charging on the go as becoming the norm in the future travel experience.”

We agree. Perhaps some day, airplane tray tables will incorporate this feature, increasing their value from a crumb catcher, drink holder, and armrest to something truly functional.

Do you use wireless charging on your phone? Is it something you would consider? Would you even upgrade to a new phone if you knew you could charge it wirelessly? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Wikipedia, Creative Commons)

Hotel Safety Tips for Wifi

June 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Should you use the free wifi at your hotel? That depends on how sensitive the information is that you’re accessing online or you have on your computer. Even if you feel comfortable and safe and have good security measures in place, you still want to exercise caution when using it; avoid extremely sensitive tasks such as online banking or accessing sensitive business information.

Norton, a well-known antivirus provider, has several suggestions about Internet security within hotel rooms.

Chicago Hilton hotel room

Chicago Hilton hotel room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing you should do when checking into a hotel is to make sure that you choose the proper wifi network. Hackers are known to trick users looking for free wifi by creating a network that will trick them into using it. Don’t jump on something called “Free Wifi” for instance. Before you ever log on, call the front desk and ask for the name of the network.

Another solution Norton discusses is using a VPN or virtual private network, if you’re traveling for work. If your company has a VPN, logging onto it will give you the same security you enjoy while working from your office behind the security firewall.

Next, change your passwords frequently. You’ve probably heard this a million times; we all have. But it keeps being repeated because it’s great advice. Set up a system to remind yourself to change passwords every three months. Don’t use single words or names of family members or pets. Use a password management system like 1Password to generate long passwords with random letters, numbers, and special characters.

Also, avoid network sharing. Norton says to avoid situations where other computers are communicating directly with yours while you’re in a fairly unsecure location, such as a hotel.

These are also good tips for working in the local coffee shop, your hotel room, or anytime you’re on a public network. What are some other computer security tips you follow on the road? Share them with us in the comments.

Brussels Airport Seeks to Reduce Wait Times With Passenger Tracking Sensors

June 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on the Future Travel Experience website discusses a new initiative at the Brussels Airport: tracking customers via their personal electronic devices in order to create estimates of how long it will take passengers to travel through the airport. They’re hoping this will help reduce queues at the airport: If officials know when to expect passengers at the gate, they can effectively staff for the influx.

According to the article, “the sensors, which are supplied by BLIP Systems, track passengers via their personal electronic devices. They collect the unique Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of phones, tablets and other devices searching for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.”

Brussels Airport Terminal A

Brussels Airport Terminal A

The sensors will record as passengers pass by them to help predict the length of the passengers’ travel time through the airport. This can also provide accurate times to airport and airline personnel about how quickly travelers will get through security and so on.

But many folks may not have their phone searching for a Wi-Fi connection or their Bluetooth activated, especially when traveling internationally. So this type of tracking may not work for everyone. (Of course, most Europeans traveling through Europe will already have their phones activated, so it will track with intra-continental travelers.)

We think this kind of tracking will continue to be on the rise. In the airport of the future, there may be a way to do this easily, and it will be more common as time goes on. Recording and predicting traffic patterns of travelers is something we think will become more widespread as time goes on.

However, it’s not clear whether this is a voluntary tracking system from the viewpoint of the traveler, although the system will only aggregate non-personally identifiable information. Is this something that travelers should be worried about? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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