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Air travel security stock

Passengers check into their flights near a security checkpoint sign at O'Hare International Airport in 2016 in Chicago.

VALPARAISO — Americans who travel abroad should be extra cautious about protecting themselves and their company, an FBI counterterrorism agent advised Valparaiso Rotary Club members.

Agent Kathy Guider, strategic partnership coordinator in the FBI's Indianapolis office, warned international travelers not to expect privacy in public places.

When checking into the hotel, don't be chatty, she said. That's difficult for Midwesterners because they're so friendly, but saying too much about yourself or your reason for visiting can aid identity theft and industrial espionage.

Before traveling, Guilder advised Monday, make photocopies of personal information like the identity page of your passport. Keep a photocopy in your wallet, in case your passport is stolen, and make sure you have the embassy phone number and address handy, too. Keeping a copy at your office, in case you need a coworker's help, can be a good idea, too. And leave a copy at home so whoever checks on your home while you're gone can access it if needed.

"You'd be surprised how many people get pickpocketed," she said.

Make sure your luggage tags have a cover over your name and address, Guilder said. You don't want burglars to know where you live when you're obviously leaving home on a trip.

Pack a rubber door stop to keep people from entering your hotel room when you're inside.

Try to stay on hotel floors 2 through 6 in case there's an emergency. On those floors, Guilder said, "you can jump and live through it."

As for technology, don't take it if you don't need it. Don't let others put thumb drives in your computer to get copies of files. And upon your return, change your passwords and give your company laptop to your IT department to check out for malware, Guilder advised.

"Keep yourself, keep your company safe," she said.


Senior Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.