5 Ways to Protect Your Money While Traveling

Financially Fit is a column published by RCB Bank to help you gain knowledge on all things financial. Fitness guides – RCB Bank professionals in the field – offer ideas to help you strengthen your money sense, customize savings training, and provide quick

By: Denise Meyer | Category: Financial Services | Issue: June 2013

Knowing her money is well-protected, Denise Meyer takes a breather during a recent trip.

Knowing her money is well-protected, Denise Meyer takes a breather during a recent trip.

You’ve been saving for your ­vacation all year. You’ve ­scheduled time off, made your travel arrangements; you’re packed and ready to go. Have you called your bank to tell them where and when you’re going? By doing so they can watch your account for suspicious activity, letting you relax and enjoy the trip. Denise Meyer is Assistant VP of the Corporate Fraud Department at RCB Bank. She is responsible for monitoring debit card activity, analyzing fraud trends and writing policy changes to block fraud attempts and try and stop the bad guys. She offers some other tips to help protect your money while traveling this summer:

    When talking to your bank about your travel plans, verify they have your current contact information. I want to protect my customers. If I suspect suspicious activity on their account, I need to be able to call them to find out if it’s fraudulent. If I can’t get in touch with the account owner, I may put a block on their debit card. Better safe than sorry. It’s a good habit to contact your bank and credit card companies before traveling. Tell them your travel dates, states and/or countries you’re traveling through, and when you expect to return. Make sure they have a current cell ­number, email address or way to reach you while you’re away.

    Set up email alerts through online banking to notify you of account transactions. An example may be to set up an alert to notify you of unusual activity on your account. Another way to watch your account on the go is by using our free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. You can scan daily transactions ­securely from your personal phone (not a public computer), and if you see anything ­suspicious, you can act quickly.

    Have a backup money plan. If you’re using plastic while on your trip, what’s the plan if your card is ever rejected? Plan for backup methods of payments, such as cash, traveler’s checks, money orders or prepaid VISA cards. Tip – if you are using your debit card and it’s rejected, you may be able to complete a transaction by using your PIN. Banks may block some states or countries from allowing signature swipes (run as credit) for security reasons to protect your account.

    Using your debit card keeps your personal account ­information safe. When a debit card transaction is processed, no identifiable account or personal information is given to the ­merchant. If your debit card is lost or stolen, don’t panic; you won’t have to close your account. Call your bank; they’ll cancel the old card, reissue you a new one and watch for fraudulent activity. A good rule of thumb when ­traveling is to use a credit card instead of your debit card ­(especially when overseas).

    Always assume others are watching you. Don’t give ­fraudsters a reason to target you. Don’t leave your credit card with a merchant (for a tab) who could easily snap a copy of the card with a phone camera. When swiping your card, make sure no one is looking over your shoulder when entering the PIN. Also, beware of any devices that may be attached to a card reader. If ­anything on the reader looks ­suspicious, don’t use it.

    If you suspect fraud, act quickly. Fraudsters know the clock is ticking. If your credit/debit card is lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately. If traveling overseas, you might ­consider leaving card information and copies of your passport and ID’s with a trusted friend.

    If personal identifiable ­information (social security #, date of birth) is stolen, file a fraud alert with one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, 1-888-766-0008; Experian, 1-888-397-3742; TransUnion, 1-888-909-8872. It’s free and puts an alert on your social security number for 90 days. You can renew as necessary. RCB Bank has a Fraud Hotline, 1-877-361-0814, and staff is on call Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    If you would like to ask me questions about protecting ­yourself against fraud, email me at eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 or call 1-877-361-0814. Check out past Financially Fit articles at www.RCBbank.com in the Newsroom. 

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