Are you heading off to a sunny destination this winter? Or taking a trip abroad this spring? Make sure your vacation goes smoothly by protecting yourself from scammers. Here are some tips for traveling safely and preventing bank fraud while you’re away.
Before you leave town, let your credit card providers know you’re going away, so they don’t flag your purchases as suspicious and lock your card. Having your card declined and needing to phone customer support while on vacation is no fun. It’s also a good idea to review your cardholder agreement to remind yourself of what the fraud protections and liabilities are for your account.
If your credit card is stolen or goes missing while you’re away, you won’t have the contact number on the back of the card. Keep the contact details in a safe and accessible place so you can quickly call and lock or cancel your card and minimize potential fraud.
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may want to do some research before you go to find out if there are any specific scams you should be aware of so you can protect yourself. Just Google “Travel scams <the place where you are traveling to>”
Wi-Fi networks that don’t require a password to connect are super risky to use – don’t do it. Even Wi-Fi networks offered by hotels and resorts that require a password can be easily monitored by hackers. If you want to use Wi-Fi networks while traveling, invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service before you leave home so you can encrypt your Internet browsing and activity. There are a number of VPN service providers Canadians can choose from, including ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark.
When traveling, use ATMs located at a reputable bank and in well-lit areas with security cameras. Before inserting your card in the machine, inspect the machine for a card skimmer or tape in the card reader. If anything looks crooked, loose, or bulky, don’t use that ATM. If the bank is open, you can check with bank staff that the machine has been recently inspected and is okay to use. If anyone is lingering around while you’re at an ATM, wait for them to leave before you use it. And always remember to block the view of the keypad when you enter your PIN.
Just as you do at home, ensure your credit card remains within sight when using it. Fraudsters can swipe your card in a skimmer to capture your credit card details or take a quick photo with their phone. Ensure your card is only used by you using a legitimate payment machine. Be wary of any phone calls to your hotel room from someone claiming they are from the hotel or tour operator wanting to verify your credit card info.
Criminals often won’t use your credit card details for weeks or months, so fraudulent charges may not appear until you’re back home and back to your familiar routine. Keep an eye on your accounts and quickly report any suspicious activity to your financial provider.
These articles are made available to you as tools for independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only. Please visit your branch to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals for all personal finance issues.