Have you ever had your bank freeze your account? I’ve had my credit card frozen while on a shopping spree at the mall, but that’s an entirely different story. However, both of these situations could happen because of preventative measures financial institutions have in place for your protection. And theirs.
That doesn’t mean having it happen to you isn’t potentially embarrassing and/or aggravating.
So what are some of the reasons why this might happen? And is there anything you can do to prevent it from happening again in the future?
One possible reason for your bank to take what you might feel is an extreme measure, is because they’ve noticed your account was accessed from a foreign location, not the location you typically log in to your account from. Remember, as we said above, these measures are in place for your protection. With the amount of online theft and security breaches, websites like financial institutions that store an immense amount of sensitive data, in this case, your sensitive data, will try to do the best they can to circumvent any type of illegal access.
So what about solutions? What are you going to do if your place of residence is in the United States, but you’re traveling abroad, perhaps somewhere warm like Thailand? Do you have to live in fear for the entire length of your trip that you might somehow get caught up in a security measure and not be able to access your finances? No.
One alternative is to connect with your bank before you travel and notify them about your whereabouts. I personally have serious doubts about doing this. Do I have absolute trust in the person who I’m speaking to at the other end? I’m letting them know that my home is going to be empty for x amount of time? That’s not information I want to share with anyone who I don’t know. I don’t care if they’ve been vetted and bonded by the bank.
Fortunately, there is another solution.
Use a VPN
So what can a VPN do for you? It can allow you to move about online like a ghost. Check out this review of CyberGhost VPN app.
Okay, seriously. It can do a number of things, but let’s first talk about how it can help in this specific situation.
One of the benefits of a VPN or Virtual Private Network is that any surfing you do on the Internet or any websites you access won’t be done via your own IP address. Any activity you do while online, assuming you are logged into your VPN, is behind their walls. Some use the analogy of a tunnel. That any traffic you do online happens within the walls of this tunnel, meaning that all of your activity is obscure and anonymous. That’s going to be beneficial to you at any time, but when you’re traveling out of the country and trying to access sensitive websites, or perhaps even trying to see your Netflix account from another location, it’s going to be especially beneficial. All you need to do is choose from one of the many country-specific IP addresses the VPN provides and log in using that. As far as any website that you visit is concerned, you are actually visiting from the originating country of the IP address you’ve chosen.
Not only are you safe because your own IP address is obscured, but you’re also safe because all data transfer that happens while you are either surfing or connected to a website is encrypted. This means that no one can steal or spy on your data. Since it’s unlikely that you want anyone else to have access to your bank account, this is something everyone should consider, whether they’re traveling or at home.
Another advantage of using a VPN while traveling is that you are likely connecting to public Wi-Fi networks at least some of the time. Since you have no idea what type of security measures are on these public networks, do you really want to be accessing personal accounts while online?
Let me close off by offering you a few extra reasons why you should consider a VPN while traveling. Not only might you be using the public Wi-Fi networks mentioned above, wherever you’re traveling may have restrictions on that network, meaning you might not be able to move about as freely online as you usually would. This is not an issue if you’re using a VPN.
Another benefit, assuming you don’t have free international calling on your smartphone, you may intend to call friends and family back home using a VoIP line. Why not secure those calls behind a VPN as well?