While the chance of a data breach and debit card fraud happening to the average traveler is low, you and your money are still vulnerable when vacationing in unfamiliar places. A stolen or misplaced wallet or purse can mean your cards and cash are gone and your identity is at risk. Pickpockets do exist in even the most unlikely locations and in a foreign country, theft or fraud can put an end to your trip.
Luckily, there are ways to protect your money when traveling at home or abroad. Consider these six tips to keep your cards and finances secure the next time you go traveling.
Keep Your Bank in the Know
Banks and credit card providers are known to temporarily freeze accounts if they notice more spending or withdrawals than usual or spending in a location that is not typical for you. It's only a safety precaution in the event your card may have been stolen. Prevent this by telling the card companies and your financial institution about your upcoming travel itinerary.
Avoid Nonbank ATMs
You should try to limit your ATM usage when traveling, especially in other countries where foreign ATM fees and exchange rates can cost you money. But if you must make withdrawals from your account, try to stick with official bank ATMs preferable in a high-traffic area or bank lobby. Also inspecting the ATM for anything visibly suspicious is recommended.
Protect Your Phone
Protecting your money during a vacation isn't just about keeping your cash or cards secure. If your phone falls into the wrong hands, your bank account information along with other vital information can be accessible to a stranger who could easily steal your money. Always keep your smartphone and laptop PIN- and password-enabled on the welcome screen. Also make sure to always log out of any financial apps or websites.
Lock Up Your Money
Even though you're on vacation, away from the cares of work and home, that doesn't mean you should stop being mindful of your bank accounts. It is recommended that if you bring cash, debit cards or credit cards with you, don't carry them on you all at once. Lock them up! Keep paper and digital copies of your card and account numbers, in case they've been compromised and you need to report the fraudulent activity.
Frequently log on to your bank account to monitor your activity, either on your laptop or via your bank's smartphone app. And make sure the WiFi connection is secure. It may seem like a hassle, but you never know when you might spot some suspicious, unauthorized activity.
Stash Your Cash
No, not under the mattress or inside the Bible in the hotel nightstand. Those are common places where thieves look. Carry cash sparingly, and carry it on you strategically. Experts recommend using a money belt, worn underneath your clothes. Hide some cash inside the lining of your shoes or inside your sock. Also, keeping your wallet in your back pocket is not a good idea.
Make It Look Like You Are Home
It's not all about guarding the assets you have with you on vacation. If your house looks like it's been unattended, burglars can tell you haven't been home, making it a prime spot for a robbery. If you will be traveling several days/weeks, you might want to put a hold on your mail. By letting your mail and newspapers build up is one way that someone can tell that there's nobody home.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to pick up packages delivered to your door, and use timers on your inside and outside lights to give the impression your house is occupied.