The beginning of summer usually signals sunny weather, no school, and for many families, the beginning of vacation season. However, if individuals aren't careful, it can also make identity theft easier for criminals to commit. Vacationers may let their guards down while enjoying beaches, exotic food and local cultures. But safeguarding debit and credit cards from local scammers is important to keep in the back of an individual's mind.
"When people are on vacation, they tend to let their guard down," Privacy Rights Clearinghouse policy and advocacy director Paul Stephens told the Chicago Sun-Times. "They tend to be in unfamiliar places. They're not going through their normal routines, so there's a greater exposure to the possibility of somebody committing a fraudulent act," Stephens added.
According to PRC, vacationers should refrain from using debit cards during their travels. If a criminal gains access to their card, especially in a foreign place where communication may be difficult, they could drain a victim's bank account before they have time to act. In the event that an individual needs to withdraw money from their bank account, they should look for signs of skimming devices or tampering on ATM machines, according to the PRC website.
The website also advises individuals to remove any sensitive information from their wallets, such as Social Security cards and numerous credit cards. Carrying no more than two credit cards is suggested. In the event that one is stolen or shut down, having one additional credit card to serve as a back-up will be beneficial, Stephens told the newspaper.
"Financial institutions are being very aggressive in looking for fraud nowadays," Stephens told the newspaper. "Sometimes there are events that might occur that are not necessarily fraudulent which would cause them to shut down your credit card privileges. You don't want to be stuck away from home without a credit card that you can use."
Vacationers should not spend their trip worrying about identity theft, but they should make smart financial decisions and keep the possibility in the back of their minds. Nearly 11 million Americans report cases of identity theft each year. Keeping personal information protected and carrying more cash than credit may help reduce a vacationer's risk and allow them to focus on enjoying their trip.