Scam Alert: Keep Your Credit Card Info Safe While Traveling This Summer

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June 14, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown

Did you know summertime is prime time for credit card scams? Due to the rise in travel during the summer months, consumers are more vulnerable to fraud. Just recently, Consumer Reports found that 19.5 million consumers had charges placed on a credit card by an unauthorized person. A June 2012 report from Javelin Strategy & Research found that credit card fraud has increased an alarming 87 percent since 2010. The result has been a cumulative total loss of approximately $6 billion, reports Retail Info Systems News.

Here are some credit card safety tips:

  • Call your credit card company and let them know you are traveling and where. You don’t want your card frozen due to suspicious activity while you’re in Jamaica. Also if charges are made elsewhere, they will be on alert.
  • Before you go, make sure the customer service number is usable overseas. If not, ask the issuer for a number you can use while out of the country.
  • Don’t carry a lot of cards with you. Black America Web (BAW) advises, taking just two cards max. Before you travel make a photocopy of all your identification and leave it in a safe place at home.
  • Don’t check your credit card balance or bank information on a strange computer. You cannot be sure your personal and financial information won’t be pulled off. Even using your laptop overseas to pay for things online may cause a problem because your issuer will take note that the transactions is being made out of the country.
  • Don’t be a victim of “skimming.”  According to BAW, skimming is when crooks use a concealed spy camera or an electronic device to record your card number and secret PIN code, and then drain your checking account reports Black America Web. Don’t use sketchy standalone ATMs and cover your your pin while entering it.
  • Be wary of contactless cards. Contactless cards are equipped with an embedded radio chip, and that radio frequency identification, or RFID, that allows cardholders to simply hold their credit or debit cards in front of a card reader to complete a transaction, explains BAW. While this is more convenient, it means you don’t need to hand to a sales clerk who in other cases with check your signature and in some cases ask for additional ID. To check if you have a contactless card, look for one of the “contactless” RFID logos: Chase Bank’s is Blink, Visa uses payWave, MasterCard  has PayPass, Discover calls it Zip, and American Express’s is named ExpressPay. There’s also the universal “wireless” symbol: a triangle of nested arcs.

On top of everything else, BAW says there is a free Android app that can be used to read credit card information from a nearby card even if it’s not visible.  If true, this means anyone with a smartphone can read card information without getting close, even through wallets, pockets and purses. While we’re at it, be careful about using your Android phone to make online payments. According to Forbes, hackers recently demonstrated they can use an Android app that can wirelessly steal credit cards’ data.

Of course, you should be closely monitoring your account activity online.

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