Vacation Tips to Prevent Fraud and Identity Theft

Preparing for a getaway has not changed much from the way it used to be, however, Connecticut Better Business Bureau says we have to do more than just turn off the water and ask the post office to hold the mail.

“Travelers must take precautions to outsmart criminals,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz.  “There are many ways to potentially fall victim to fraud on vacation.  At the least it can be irritating; at worst, it can ruin your getaway.”

Pre-departure preparations:

Make certain your home is locked, including second story windows and garage doors that lead inside your home.

Contact your post office by telephone or online to specify dates to suspend and restore mail delivery.

Put lights on timers, and turn down the heat.

Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home for any suspicious activity.

Give a copy of your itinerary to a family member or trusted friend in case of emergency.

Compare travel insurance policies. Be certain you thoroughly understand what the insurance covers, its limitations and any exclusions.

Leave as many credit and identification cards as possible at home.

Give your financial institutions a heads up:
Any change in spending habits, such as using a credit card in another country can be interpreted as fraud unless you inform your financial institutions in advance. Contact your bank and credit card company to inform them of your departure and return dates, and if there are any layovers, so that your transactions will not be declined.

Email yourself a copy of your passport, cards, telephone numbers and other important documents in case your luggage goes missing, and give copies to someone you trust.

Upon arrival at your destination:
Better Business Bureau cautions against carrying credit cards, cash and passport at the same time.  Carry only as much cash as you need for the day and leave the rest in the hotel room safe.

Beware of your surroundings to avoid low tech fraud, such as pickpockets and purse snatchers.

Withdraw cash from a bank ATM.  Standalone ATMs might be outfitted with card skimmers or may have been tampered with and are a prime target for thieves.

At the hotel, ask for the name of the hotel’s Wi-Fi network.  Hackers can set-up authentic-looking hotel networks, and if you unwittingly connect to one of them, a cyber crook can burrow into your computer or smart device.

Hotel Scams to Avoid:

The front desk scam – You might receive a telephone call from someone “at the front desk” who wants to confirm your information because “the computer system is down.”  In fact, the call came from outside the hotel.  Hotel employees will never ask for personal or financial information by calling your room.

The yummy menu scam – Someone slips a flyer for a restaurant under your door with images of sumptuous meals.  If you call to order, they will ask for your credit card number.  Unfortunately, there is no restaurant, you have just given your credit card number to someone is using it to go on a shopping spree, and your stomach will continue to rumble.

When you get home, reconcile your receipts with your bank and credit card statements to look for any errors or fraud.

You will find additional details about protecting yourself and your finances at bbb.org/.

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