Identity theft, credit card fraud and scams are more the norm rather than the exception.
There are 3 simple ways to protect your finances when traveling. Years ago, I traveled nationally and internationally as a speaker/trainer/consultant. One trip, I walked into the hotel only to find out that all my credit cards were maxed out and my checking account frozen. Panic set in and react mode took over. Lucky for me, the hotel and credit card company I called worked with me so I could meet my client obligations. Here's what I learned to protect myself.
Simple Way #1 -- Re-loadable Cards
Use a dedicated re-loadable credit card. When we travel internationally, we use a special credit card that we can safely load from our bank. Years ago when traveling, it was travelers checks but these re-loadable cards are much better and are protected from fraud. We can load it from any bank but we use a global bank which is convenient plus cuts down on the fees. You need to look around and find one that works best for you. I recommend working with you local bank first and then look at other options. Our Credit Union and small local banks potentially may not offer what you need. One of our local hometown banks had that option but when we got to Mexico, the card didn't work. So make sure you double check before you go. We now use a global bank for our traveling needs.
eurochange and Mastercard run a 10 currency card, ideal for travellers and holidaymakers. The Multi-Currency Cash Passport
Simple Way #2 -- Bank Alerts
Alert your bank that you will be out of the country. Because our bank knows us, it is easy to set up alerts on our account that will review our purchases daily. if something looks out of the ordinary, we get an email, text message AND a phone call. We are able to do some of it online and the rest we do directly with the bank. Since I've had my credit cards hit multiple times and identity theft two times, this is immensely important to me. Building a relationship with your bank is huge in protecting you especially when you are out of the country. A few years back, we had just gotten back from our Mexico vacation and my husband got a call from the bank. Apparently someone had attempted to use his card to purchase a $3,500 scuba adventure. Our bank knew that we were back so it alerted them to something not being right. Just to make sure, they called us and had blocked the charge.
Simple Way #3 -- Be Smart
We can take every precaution but basically it comes down to being smart. Look around when going into ATM's and be a human shield to your numbers/pins. My husband even goes so far as to have us both go in and block the screen. He also uses the credit sleeves that protect from someone walking by and cloning the card. Finally, keep your cards and cash secure. In the hotel, we use the safe for everything including electronics. We carry a "stick" so we can guarantee the internet connection is secure. When we go out for the day, we grab the re-loadable card and a bit of cash. We know that the card is protected from fraud just like a regular card. If we have an issue, we have recourse to get our money back.
Identity theft and credit card fraud can happen to anyone. When traveling, have a plan and stick to it. We know exactly what card(s) we will take and limit ourselves to just those cards. Set up your alerts and contact your bank. Finally, be observant. We had an incident where we were bring followed, luckily my husband noticed it and nothing happened. Safety first and be smart about how to protect yourself.
For more great advice on travel, visit Kim at Our Travel Moments