You use your credit card all the time but probably never more than when you are on vacation. It’s convenient and you can easily track your expenses. Win-win! The flip side is that you become an easy target for data and identity thieves.
Before you start booking that flight, hotel or activity, check out BeenVerified’s tips for credit card protection and peace of mind when you travel.
Book your stay through a central reservation center
Book your stay through a central reservation system, rather than through a 3rd party. As a result, you should not be affected by malware that causes data breaches because your card will not be processed at the location where the breach is taking place.
Bill to your room
Every time you use your card at your hotel or resort, you’re more vulnerable to a malware attack. The simple answer is to not use your credit card at the hotel. Instead, bill your purchases to your room. And if you do have to use your card, don’t let it out of your sight. Most hotels and restaurants are now using portable swipe machine to handle your transaction table side. However, some are still going old school meaning they take your credit card out of your sight to be charged. This is practice is vulnerable to having the data skimmed, or otherwise copied.
Be wary of public internet connections
Often hotels will offer free Wi-Fi in their common areas. These aren’t necessarily secured and could leave you open to identity theft. If you’re using the web to engage in any financial transactions be sure to use websites that are secured. Look for the “s” in “https://.” The ‘s’ stands for secure, where the data used is being encrypted for protection.
Use bank ATMs only
Avoid using private ATM machines. These are more vulnerable to tampering by the installation of a card reader than a unit located in a bank. Better still, stick to putting your travel purchases on your credit card. If it is compromised, the money is not coming directly from your account. Different banks have different rules about how much liability you will have if your card is lost, stolen or compromised. While most will not hold you responsible for fraudulent transactions, the money is temporarily gone from your account. This could be a problem when traveling.
Use only one card for travel
Use a dedicated card for travel. As a result, you will more quickly find out about breaches because they will not be blended in with your normal transactions.
Keep a close eye on your statements
Even if you only use a certain card for travel, continue to check your statements or your account online regularly to make sure there aren’t blatant fraudulent charges. Thieves will often steal information but then not use it for months, long after your trip is over.
Change passwords and PINs
If you can change your passwords or PINs for your credit card, after your vacation. If your data was obtained fraudulently, it will be of more limited use to a thief without the all-important PIN codes.
Ultimately, there is no foolproof way to protect yourself from credit card fraud, on vacation or otherwise, but staying vigilant and protecting your data when you can needs to be a top priority.
About The Author
Justin Lavelle is Communications Director at BeenVerified. BeenVerified is the fast, affordable, and easy way to access public records and search for people — find out age, marital status, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, criminal records, and more.