Vacation is the ideal time for fun and relaxation. We are so focused upon recreation and rejuvenation that we often forget about the potential dangers that we might get into; tourists serve as easy targets for criminals. Financial fraud is rampant these days, especially for people traveling overseas.
When you are stepping out of your country, you must be prepared to face the unexpected. Make yourself financially secure by following these useful tips by mymoneykarma.
Pack the Best Cards
As you start planning for the trip, you should also start planning for your trip expenses. Browse through the available options of carrying money abroad. Avoid using debit cards while traveling - you could keep them as backup options for emergencies. Seek out the best credit cards and forex travel cards. Research enough to locate the cards with perks and benefits for travel.
Many travel credit cards offer several trip-related insurances, attractive discounts on bookings and other travel benefits. A few cards do not charge foreign transaction fees and offer fair currency conversion deals. These cards can help you save a lot of money. You must also ensure that your cards are on a network that is accepted universally. Visa and Mastercards are your safest bets during international travel.
Get Some Local Currency in Cash
How should you spend when you are abroad? Since your INRs will not work in other countries, you need to get hold of their currency notes. It is best to carry around 30% of your total budget in cash. You should convert the currency before you leave, else you might end up paying a lot more on conversion rates if you plan on getting it done after you reach your destination.
While we recommend that you use your cards for most of your transactions, the cash adds an extra layer of backup. Cash is handy if you visit places where cards aren't accepted or you lose your cards or your cards are compromised. Just make sure that you keep your wallet safe from pickpockets.
Get RFID blockers
As we speak of pickpockets, let's not forget the smarter thieves. Fraudsters do not need to steal your physical wallets - they have hi-tech gadgets like RFID skimmers that can obtain your digital credit card information very easily without any direct contact with the cards. You could prevent such thefts by using an RFID-blocker. Some wallets are available with inbuilt RFID blockers that can keep your cards safe from the skimmers.
Keep Your Bank in the Loop
Credit card issuers constantly lookout for fraudulent transactions, and overseas transactions come off as potential red flags. They might block your card or freeze your account. Don't let it roll so far. Inform your card issuing company about your upcoming trip - convey the location and duration of travel. You could do this by calling up their customer service department.
Some companies provide this facility on their websites too. Apart from this, you can also keep an eye on suspicious activities by signing up for fraud alerts to be sent to you through text messages or emails
Equip Yourself for Emergencies
Take photographs of your cards (both sides) before you start your trip and email them to yourself. You can also make photocopies and keep them somewhere safe and accessible. This will ensure that you have your card details even if the card is lost or stolen.
You should also note down the bank's contact information somewhere so that you can reach them during emergencies. Remember that the tollfree helpline numbers of your bank might not be reachable from abroad, and you need to know the specific numbers where you can call from a foreign country to seek support.
Consider Getting a Travel Insurance
If you don't have a travel credit card that provides travel insurance, you could consider getting yourself one separately. The correct insurance policy can protect you from the financial loss incurred if you lose or misplace your luggage, change the itinerary due to earnest reasons or during medical emergencies.
Tourists are easy victims of pickpockets. Be on your guard. Stay alert and keep your wallet and phone safe, especially when you are in crowded places. Watch out for people trying to bump into you on purpose.
Lock Things Up
Most good hotels provide a 'safe' in all the rooms. You can lock it up with a PIN of your choice. Keep all vital documents locked up in the safe when you are off exploring your dream destination. You do not need your passport on you all the time - keep it in the safe along with a spare card and extra cash.
If the hotel doesn't provide a safe, then you could lock all the important things in your suitcase. However, carrying a suitcase out of a hotel room is no big deal for thieves.
Protect Your Pocket
Don't carry all your cards while traveling. Think wisely and choose the best cards for travel. Take along only those credit and debit cards that you plan to use and one extra card as backup. Keep your wallet secure and beware of pickpockets. Monitor your balances from time to time to identify a possible foul play.
Avoid using your debit card for purchases. Fraud committed through lost debit cards put you in a vulnerable position as the fraudster gets access to all your hard earned money which will be gone in a jiffy. The fraud protection policies for lost or stolen debit cards are quite weak. The bank might not cover the fraudulent charges, and the lost amount might never be reversed.
Look Out for Suspicious Transaction Machines
Frauds through ATMs, merchant POS devices and skimmers are in vogue these days. You might unsuspectingly go to the ATM to withdraw money or walk into a store to buy something with your card, not knowing that fraudsters can hack the machines to steal your data.
Carefully scrutinize the machine before you swipe your card or enter your PIN. If you find loose sockets, exposed wires or anything that looks odd and out of the ordinary, avoid using the machine. These devices are hard to spot as they look exactly like regular magnetic stripe swipers.
Stay on Scam-alert
Scammers and conmen prefer targetting unsuspecting tourists. Be alert from the moment you step out of the airport. Watch out for overtly "friendly" strangers offering help, exploitative cabbies with broken or faulty meters, street vendors and beggars. They can trick you easily. Read up and educate yourself on the common scams and mishaps reported in the area.
Avoid Public Wi-fi
Online shopping and banking while your phone or laptop is connected to a public network aren't safe at all. The server may record your data and counterfeiting gets easier through this. Use your own cellular data connection for safe and secure transactions.
In case of urgent need, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to keep your information safe. You may use public networks for browsing the Web, but you must ensure that you are not sending sensitive data over the public Wi-Fi. Refrain from checking banking or credit card information while you are on a public network.
Report it to Your Bank
If you misplace or lose your credit or debit card, you need to report the issue to your bank and hotlist or block the lost card immediately before the perpetrator can do much damage. Fraud protection laws support the customers strongly only when the fraud is reported on time. Once your card is successfully hotlisted, you can rest assured that nobody can misuse it. However, if you lose cash, consider it gone for good.
Take Legal Action
A lost or stolen card can wreck your life. It could lead to counterfeit or identity theft. A police report is necessary to prove yourself innocent of heinous financial frauds. Even if you succeed in absolving yourself of the responsibility for the fraudulent transactions, your credit report might contain the incorrect information and accuse you of a huge debt.
You would need a police report to dispute such false information. Moreover, some card issuers might ask for a police report before processing your application for a duplicate card.
When you step out of your country, it is imperative that you carry some cash and extra cards as backups. If you lose one card, you must have something else to rely on.
Check Your Credit Report
If your credit cards are compromised, the scammers get access to all your information. They can utilize the information even after you have closed the compromised accounts. They can continue to scam you by opening new accounts in your name.
If you notice anything sketchy on your credit report, act immediately. Report the issue to your card issuer as well as the concerned credit bureau and file a dispute.
Scammers, thieves and fraudsters are more intelligent than you can imagine. With each passing day, they discover new and innovative ways to steal from you. Being a little alert and conscious can work wonders.
Keep an eye on your credit score for suspicious activities. Follow these guidelines to keep your finances safe while you travel.