Protecting Yourself While on Vacation – (Q & A)

May 2017


Q Dear Rick:

We are planning our summer vacation and I was curious as to what precautions we should take before we leave. Also do you have any warnings for when we are on our vacation?


A Dear Joe:

I love the way you think. It is important to take precautions when you travel. In this technological world that we live in, even on vacation, you have to protect yourself.

When you go on vacation it’s not necessary to take every charge card you own. I generally recommend people take a couple charge cards and that’s it. After all, the more you take, the greater the risk that you lose something. With regard to the charge cards you are taking, it is important that if for some reason you lose your charge cards or they are stolen, you have the information available to immediately contact your credit card company. Therefore, it is important when you to be sure that you have immediate access to charge card account numbers, PINs and the phone number to contact your credit card company in case of emergency. In today’s world there are many ways of doing that. For example, you can take a picture of these items on your phone or you can send an email to yourself (an email that you would have access to while you’re out of town). The bottom line is you want to make sure that in case of an emergency you have access to this information.

In addition to making sure you have access to the information for your charge cards, I also believe it’s important to have copies of your ID, such as your driver’s license, or if you’re traveling out of the country, your passport. Having access to this information can be invaluable and prevent your family vacation from turning into a nightmare.

When you’re out of town there are also things that you need to be aware of. The first deals with ATMs. There has been lots of fraud when it comes to certain ATMs. Crooks attach skimmers to some of these ATMs which steal your sensitive information. Therefore, it’s important that you are careful as to what ATMs you use. My general rule: I never use an ATM at a bar, gas station or convenience store. These machines are more apt to have difficulties than ones at banks or other financial institutions. Even if I have to pay a small fee (and I hate paying fees), I would do that in order to protect myself.

While people are on vacation they tend to let their guard down and crooks readily take advantage of that fact. One way they do that is stealing information through public Wi-Fi. When you’re on vacation you have to be extremely careful about transacting business through public Wi-Fi. The crooks know how to steal your information and thus, you need to be cautious. My general advice: No transactions of business on a public Wi-Fi particularly, in places like coffee shops and hotel lobbies.

If you are planning on renting a car when you’re out of town, one thing all the rental companies try to do is to get you to buy additional insurance. The issue is whether or not you actually need it. The agents of the car rental companies will always give you the doom and gloom scenario; thus, frightening you to pay extra money for what may be unnecessary insurance. My advice: talk to your auto insurance agent before you rent the car to review your coverage and determine if any additional coverage is necessary.
It used to be that while on vacation you could be very carefree and somewhat let your guard down. Unfortunately, in today’s technologically advanced world, you cannot afford to do that. Crooks are everywhere and they’re good at what they do. Therefore, the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, certainly applies.

Good luck!

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