Monday, June 24, 2013

4 Ways To Prevent Gadget Theft While Traveling

Keeping your gadgets away from the opportunistic hands of thieves means a lot more today than it did 10 years ago. Back then, losing a device meant you were out hundreds of dollars—no small amount by any means, but at least the damage was limited to the theft itself. These days, our heightened level of connectivity means that your smartphone is the gateway to your electronic life, with online accounts full of sensitive information available with a few finger swipes.

Even with all the changes that have taken place in our technological ecosystem in a few brief years, one thing has remained constant: vacation hotspots and tourist destinations are still easy places for your gadgets to get “adopted” by someone new, with thieves only requiring a moment or two or inattentiveness. Considering how important it is to your financial life to keep your electronic tools safe, here are 4 ways to prevent gadget theft while traveling:

Travel Safes

These aren’t the bowling ball-sized portable safes that can be easily carried out of your hotel room by a thief and then opened at his leisure. Modern travel safes come in a variety of designs, but one of the more common ones is a sturdy, collapsible canvas sack reinforced with flexible, stainless steel wire to provide a cut-resistant surface. You put your belongings in the bag, lock it shut, then attach it with tamperproof cables to a sturdy holding, such as a pipe, radiator, or other structure.
These safes won’t keep a truly dedicated interloper away from your prized possessions for long, but if properly used they provide a fairly reliable method of protection against smash-and-grab thieves and other crimes of opportunity

Money Belts

In the eternal struggle against petty pickpockets, money belts have been making somewhat of a comeback, and many of them now have dedicated slots for smartphones. The pouches are made thin enough these days that it won’t look like you’re wearing a fanny pack underneath your shirt, which is a benefit for both your overall safety against pickpockets and your fashion sense.  

Deceptive Covers

Another growing trend is the use of tablet and smartphone cases that mask the fact that they’re protecting a gadget, usually by resembling a book or other, far cheaper object. If this option is interesting, you may find better luck with disguising your tablet than your smartphone: many of the phone covers tend to resemble a bulky wallet, which isn’t exactly a turn-off to thieves. But there are a variety of tablet covers that do a fairly passable imitation of a hardcover book or journal; they won’t fool anybody up close for more than a few seconds, but they may be enough for a pickpocket who’s quickly scanning the crowd for an easy mark to overlook you.

Anti-Theft Travel Bags

Coming in a wide variety of sizes and styles, anti-theft travel bags have a series of buttons, zippers, and hidden compartments to stash your valuables as you roam about on your tourist adventures. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can get a simple carrying bag with a bit of extra protection against the light-fingered denizens of society, or a full-blown bank vault in canvas form with dozens of protective layers used to keep its pockets closed for everyone but you. If you don’t mind it taking several minutes for you to dig your smartphone or tablet out from under all that security, anti-theft travel bags may be the way to go.

In addition to keeping your gadgets from getting stolen, you should try to do away with automatic logins for your various online accounts. Despite how annoying it is to peck out your 20-character Netflix password every time you want access, doing so prevents a thief from automatically jumping into your account and effortlessly acquiring your credit or debit card number, address, and other billing info. If you’re already out $400-600 for a phone, tablet, or laptop, the least you can do is make sure that your checking account won’t be drained before you can even get online again.

Author bio:

John is a blogger who constantly struggles to remove the automatic logins for his accounts, despite losing one smartphone in his consumer career already. He writes for Internet insurer Protect Your Bubble, who can provide the kind of identity theft insurance that helps you deal with the disaster of someone else getting your personal info from your smartphone, tablet, or other gadgets.