Protect Yourself and Your Credit Information While Traveling

8 August 2015

As the summer months pass by, you may be daydreaming of getting away on a much needed holiday. The warm weather and clear skies may be calling your name, but before you hit the road or the skies, be aware of travel precautions you should take to avoid having your dream vacation turn into a nightmare. In a single moment, a fraudster can snatch away your feeling of security by stealing your identity.

Though you may be reaching for your credit card to pay for your summer travels, CTV News reports that there are simple ways you can reduce your risk. While it isn’t possible to completely eliminate your risk of your card number being stolen, there are several measures you can take to reduce that risk.

When getting ready to leave, or while traveling, the few areas that leave you most vulnerable are when you use your card online to pay for necessities like flights or book hotel rooms, when you issue your card number over the phone for travel plans, when you use ATMs while out in a new city or simply carrying around your card in your wallet or purse.

One of the first rules for protecting yourself while traveling is to first notify your bank or card issuer that you will be traveling, TD Canada Trust writes. This way your bank will know where you are and can determine if any unusual charges pop up from areas where you haven’t been. Furthermore, know that a vendor or bank may block your card if you are traveling far away because they may deem it as a fraudulent purchase if you have not yet notified them.

Before you head out, MasterCard writes that you should make a record of all your personal information, like passport and credit card information, in case you run into an emergency, lose your card or believe your card has been stolen. You can keep this information safe by leaving it in a safe in your hotel room.

Maura Drew-Lytle, spokeswoman for the Canadian Bankers Association, said that those Canadians who plan to travel to the U.S. should be aware that chip card adoption has been slower in the U.S. While the Canadian Bankers Association found that these cards led to 23 percent less card counterfeiting from 2012 to 2013, you should be advised take precautions if you swipe your card at a a U.S. restaurant or retailer.

“If anything looks unusual about the terminal that they are using, you might want to pay cash or go somewhere else,” said Drew-Lytle.
Furthermore, be wary of any online discounts or free vacation offers as these might be fraudulent. If it seems too good to be true, it just might be. Also be sure to use a secure internet connection when you are ordering any plane tickets or shopping online.

Mike Haley, a regional vice-president for the Royal Bank, said that you should always notify your card issuer if anything doesn’t seem right, or if you have lost your card. The company or bank that issued the card will never call or email you asking for card number information or your PIN, so do not divulge this information over these lines of communication.

“Just connect with your card company,” Haley said. “They’ll take over the situation immediately, they’ll make sure they can issue you a new card and protect you from any additional risks out there.”

One great way to help protect yourself while traveling is to sign up for a credit monitoring service that will let you know if there is certain activity in your credit files that may indicate identity theft or fraud.