From the July 3, 2017 Stickley on Security article “Gear Up For Summer Travel; But Don’t Forget About Payment Card Safety While You’re Gone”.
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Gear Up For Summer Travel; But Don’t Forget About Payment Card Safety While You’re Gone
When preparing for your summer travel, whether a fun-filled road trip across the vast and varied landscape of the United States, to welcoming South America, the old country in Europe, or anywhere else in the world, keep a few tips in mind when using payment cards. You can have payment card safety during summer travel.
Prepare Before You Leave
- Contact your payment card company before leaving and let them know you’re headed on a trip. Provide them your travel dates and countries you intend to visit, if headed out of the US. Because of the high number of credit card numbers stolen in this country, many of them will deny any charges that don’t fit within your “normal” charging profile. If they know your travel dates and destinations, they can authorize it for those dates and destinations only. Sometimes you can set up a travel profile online with your financial institution.
- Check the credit limit for each card you take with you. If going to another country, the exchange rate differences may cause you to overcharge on your cards.
Carry Cards Safely
- Consider taking only one or two payment cards to lower the risk of all of them being stolen if your wallet or purse is stolen.
- Carry your cards and identification documents safely. Put wallets in front pockets and carry bags and purses in front of you, across your body. Money belts are another option. Backpacks are easy targets for pickpockets. If you carry one, carry it in front of you.
- Make copies of both sides of your cards and keep them separated from your actual cards and hidden as much as possible. This will make it easier to replace and report to local authorities and the Embassy.
Have Contact Phone Numbers
- Make sure you have the international phone numbers for your payment card issuing institutions before you leave the United States and stashed where you can get to them quickly. While you’re getting those, jot down phone numbers for the local police in your destinations and the nearest US Embassies just in case you need to report theft, should you be headed overseas.
Review Your Card Accounts While Traveling
- Check your card accounts as often as you can while traveling to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. This is easy to forget when vacationing. If there are suspicious charges, contact the issuing institution immediately. Often just a few minutes on the phone will resolve it and you can go back to the fun.
- If abroad and you find your payment or identification card missing, immediately report it to the card issuer, the local police, and the US Embassy. When you get home, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit to report the stolen cards. Also file a report using the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. This is to mitigate any potential identity theft effects.
As always, never leave your cards unattended and cover your PIN numbers when entering them into keypads. Take a quick look at the ATMs as well to ensure there are no card skimmers attached to them. When traveling, these may be easy to miss because the machines are not familiar. A quick glance will prevent your card information from going to a cybercriminal while on your trip.