Travel season is upon us and many of us will use our anticipated tax return to get away. When traveling, many things should be remembered, like bringing extra sun screen and not forgetting your airline tickets at home. Your money and identity should also be on your radar, because identity theft often happens while you're traveling! Suzanne Klenk from Washington State Employees Credit Union joined Margaret to share FIVE tips to protect yourself from would-be identity thieves so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation.
For more information about Washington State Employees Credit Union, visit their website: www.wsecu.org
For viewers who want to contact Suzanne with questions or request a FREE financial workshop for their business or organization, you can email Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Five easy steps to protect yourself and your money during vacation:
- Lighten up your wallet.
Only carry the credit cards (2 maximum) you'll be using on your trip and leave the rest at home. If it makes you feel better, take an ATM/debit card for withdrawing cash- although there a some reasons why you shouldn't which we will cover later.
Try not to bring anything with you that has your Social Security number on it. Heath insurance cards sometimes have your social security number on them so make a copy of the card and remove the last four digits. Leave the original card at home. And, really important, Leave your checkbook at home!
- Use credit cards for major purchases
Most credit cards have a zero-liability policy, meaning you won't pay for fraudulent charges if a card is lost or stolen, but you must report the lost or stolen card!
If you're worrying about safety, you can go wrong with a credit card. If you are unhappy with the purchase or there are other issues, many credit cards have a process for you to return the purchase and get your money back. Make sure to bring contact information for each of your credit cards with you on the trip so if there is an issue; you have all the information you need. Using a credit card is just a smarter best bet.
- Watch out for bogus ATMs.
It is not a good idea to take your ATM or Debit Card on vacation because it is directly attached to your savings and checking account, but many folks want to carry them, so safety is key! Just be sure the cash machine is safe before inserting your card.
It is rare, but thieves can place phony cash machines in high-traffic tourist areas or attach a card reader to an existing machine. It is prudent to use machines that are near credit unions or in airports and hotels. These machines are checked often and carry less risk.
WSECU, as well as other credit unions, provide assistance with locating surcharge free ATM locations. Check with your financial institution to see if they can provide that assistance as well. This makes it easy to locate legitimate cash machine locations in the areas where you'll be traveling. Shared branching is also a fabulous service for Credit Union members to utilize while traveling.
- Keep a close eye on that debit card.
Though traveling with an ATM or Debit cards can be dangerous, they can also be handy for withdrawing cash from ATMs when making small purchases. So, to be safe, keep close tabs on your ATM/debit card at all times. It is linked directly to your saving/checking account, and if it is compromised, your account could be emptied in no time. The benefit of credit is that you can dispute a fraudulent charge and do not have to pay for it until all is settled. If your checking account is wiped out, even the few days it may take to get your funds back could be a burden on most of us. So keep a close watch on your debit card if you choose to travel with it. Contact your credit union or financial institution immediately if your ATM/debit card is lost or stolen.
- Contact your Financial Institution and Credit Card issuer and let them know that you are headed on a trip
It is very important that your financial institution and your card issuers know that you are traveling. This will ensure that you have uninterrupted service with your card and will allow for quicker response and assistance if there is an issue with your cards during your travel. This is also a good time to ask if there are any extra recommended security precautions that can be done.