Better Business Bureau: Tips to protect yourself on vacation
Summer is a great time for getaways, but while you're on vacation, criminals still are hard at work. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota warns consumers that they can find themselves tripped up by their own vacation plans if they don't first take some precautions.
"Scammers never stop thinking, so consumers have to be looking ahead too," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. "The stakes are always high."
According to Javelin Research's 2014 Identity Fraud Study, more than 13 million Americans had their identities stolen last year, and it cost an average of $3,500 to fix related problems. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), ID theft has surpassed drug trafficking to become the most prevalent crime in the nation.
BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota advises consumers to be on the lookout for fraud in all of its forms, particularly technology-based schemes. Here are steps people setting out on vacation can take to protect themselves:
• Keep an eye on your credit cards:When standing in line at a ticket counter or restaurant, don't leave your credit card in plain view. Someone can snap a photo of it over your shoulder and use the information fraudulently.
• Copy vital cards and documents:It's a good idea to keep a record of your credit card, passport and other important numbers – in a safe place – in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. Leave identity documents and cards that you don't need at home. Make sure you keep a record of customer service numbers in case you run into a problem while you're out of town.
• Check receipts during vacation and after:When you get home, go through your bank and credit card statements to look for any unauthorized charges. If something is amiss, contact your financial institution immediately.
• Manage your mail and newspaper delivery online:Before leaving town, visit www.usps.com/manage-your-mail to have your mail held while you're away. It's a good idea to do the same thing with the daily newspaper and ask a neighbor to collect any packages shipped special delivery.
• Be careful with social media:Make sure nobody in your family announces that you're going away for an awesome vacation.
• Don't get skimmed:Always inspect the card reader slot before using a standalone ATM or gas pump. Law enforcement agencies warn that criminals can place a fake card slot cover on these machines to enable them to capture customers' financial information.