When I first moved to Jacksonville, I was eating dinner with my husband at a local restaurant. When it came time to pay the bill, I handed over my credit card to the waitress and minutes later received a text message alert from my bank.
They wanted to know if I authorized a $300+ charge at a liquor store across town. I quickly responded “No” and shortly after, received a phone call from my bank. They had realized the activity was suspicious and declined the authorization, cancelled my card and had a new debit card waiting for me at my local branch the very next day.
If my bank hadn’t been vigilant in monitoring my account, I wouldn’t have known about the transaction for days and by that time, who knows how much the thieves could have spent.
Nobody wants their valuable financial information put into the wrong hands. That being said, the last thing one wants to think about is fraud and identity theft – especially while on a vacation. In fact, most of us tend to “block out” fraud protection advice, but it really only requires a few easy steps and a partnership with your banks and credit cards to protect yourself from fraud.
Easy Tips To Protect Yourself From Fraud While Traveling
Sign up for account alerts
Unreliable Wi-Fi, poor cell signal and being on vacation means we don’t always monitor our accounts as closely as we should. This is all the more reason to sign up for account alerts, which allow your bank to notify you of certain suspicious activity. Don’t forget to make sure your contact information is up to date so the alerts from your bank or credit card company can reach you right away.
Renting vacation homes directly from homeowners has become popular in the last few years, and for a lot of good reasons. That being said, there is an uglier side to this option. Protect yourself by investigating the rental for authenticity (read the reviews, research the company, etc.). Also, never pay with cash or wire transfer. Use a check or credit card so there is a money history.
You don’t want your valuable bank and credit card statements sitting in your mailbox unattended. Going paperless will also allow you to check on your accounts and statements every few days. This helps you to catch any unauthorized charges early so you can contact your banks’ customer service center immediately.
Let your bank know you’re traveling
Nowadays, banks make this really simple. Just go to their website or app select your dates and input your destination.
Use public Wi-Fi with caution
I know…free Wi-Fi is worth its weight in gold while traveling, but use it with extreme caution. Hackers and thieves can use public Wi-Fi to steal your personal information, so make sure not to log into any important sites or make purchases online. The best way to use any public wi-fi service (= ANY wi-fi outside your home) is to use a private VPN to mask your data. It’s very easy to setup and can be turned on/off as needed. If it can’t be avoided, only use websites that begin with “https” and you may want to change any important passwords at the end of your trip.
Tip: Did you know there is a difference between websites that begin with http and https? That ’s’ stands for SECURE!
What tips do you have to share? Also check out these four most common mistakes made during WiFi home network setup.